Ancient History & Civilisation




Thucydides, an Athenian, wrote the history of the war between the Peloponnesians and the Athenians, beginning at the moment that it broke out, and believing that it would be a great war, and more worthy of relation than any that had preceded it. This belief was not without its grounds. The preparations of both the combatants were in every department in the last state of perfection; and he could see the rest of the Hellenic race taking sides in the quarrel; those who delayed doing so at once having it in contemplation. [2] Indeed this was the greatest movement yet known in history, not only of the Hellenes, but of a large part of the barbarian world—I had almost said of mankind. [3] For though the events of remote antiquity, and even those that more immediately precede the war, could not from lapse of time be clearly ascertained, yet the evidences which an inquiry carried as far back as was practicable lead me to trust, all point to the conclusion that there was nothing on a greater scale, either in war or in other matters.

Thucydides explains why he decided to write his history.

The Archaeology
Thucydides offers an anthropological analysis of primitive life, noting that Attica’s poor soil led to overcrowding and the establishment of colonies.

For instance, it is evident that the country now called Hellas had in ancient times no settled population; on the contrary, migrations were of frequent occurrence, the several tribes readily abandoning their homes under the pressure of superior numbers. [2] Without commerce, without freedom of communication either by land or sea, cultivating no more of their territory than the necessities of life required, destitute of capital, never planting their land (for they could not tell when an invader might not come and take it all away, and when he did come they had no walls to stop him), thinking that the necessities of daily sustenance could be supplied at one place as well as another, they cared little about shifting their habitation, and consequently neither built large cities nor attained to any other form of greatness. [3] The richest soils were always most subject to this change of masters; such as the district now called Thessaly, Boeotia, most of the Peloponnesus (Arcadia excepted), and the most fertile parts of the rest of Hellas. [4] The goodness of the land favored the enrichment of particular individuals, and thus created faction which proved a fertile source of ruin. It also invited invasion. [5] Accordingly Attica, from the poverty of its soil enjoying from a very remote period freedom from faction, [6] never changed its inhabitants. And here is no minor example of my assertion that the migrations were the cause of there being no correspondent growth in other parts. The most powerful victims of war or faction from the rest of Hellas took refuge with the Athenians as a safe retreat; and at an early period, becoming naturalized, swelled the already large population of the city to such a height that Attica became at last too small to hold them, and they had to send out colonies to Ionia.

Long ago, men in Hellas did not call themselves Hellenes, as proved by Homer’s account of the Trojan war.

There is also another circumstance that contributes not a little to my conviction of the weakness of ancient times. Before the Trojan war there is no indication of any common action in Hellas, [2] nor indeed of the universal prevalence of the name; on the contrary, before the time of Hellen son of Deucalion, no such name existed, but the country went by the names of the different tribes, in particular of the Pelasgian. It was not till Hellen and his sons grew strong in Phthiotis, and were invited as allies into the other cities, that one by one they gradually acquired from the connection the name of Hellenes; though a long time elapsed before that name could fasten itself upon all. [3] The best proof of this is furnished by Homer. Born long after the Trojan war, he nowhere calls all of them by that name, nor indeed any of them except the followers of Achilles from Phthiotis, who were the original Hellenes: in his poems they are called Danaans, Argives, and Achaeans. He does not even use the term barbarian, probably because the Hellenes had not yet been marked off from the rest of the world by one distinctive name. [4] It appears therefore that the several Hellenic communities, comprising not only those who first acquired the name, city by city, as they came to understand each other, but also those who assumed it afterwards as the name of the whole people, were before the Trojan war prevented by their want of strength and the absence of mutual intercourse from displaying any collective action.

Indeed, they could not unite for this expedition till they had gained increased familiarity with the sea.

Minos is said to have been the first king to rule by sea power.

And the first person known to us by tradition as having established a navy is Minos. He made himself master of what is now called the Hellenic sea, and ruled over the Cyclades, into most of which he sent the first colonies, expelling the Carians and appointing his own sons governors; and thus did his best to put down piracy in those waters, a necessary step to secure revenues for his own use.



For in early times the Hellenes and the barbarians of the coast and islands, as communication by sea became more common, were tempted to turn pirates, under the conduct of their most powerful men; the motives being to serve their own greed and to support the needy. They would fall upon a town unprotected by walls, and consisting of a mere collection of villages, and would plunder it; indeed, this came to be the main source of their livelihood, no disgrace being yet attached to such an achievement, but even some glory. [2] An illustration of this is furnished by the honor with which some of the inhabitants of the continent still regard a successful marauder, and by the question we find the old poets everywhere representing the people as asking of voyagers—“Are they pirates?”—as if those who are asked the question would have no idea of disclaiming the imputation, or their interrogators of reproaching them for it. [3] The same pillaging prevailed also on land.

Piracy was common and not entirely dishonorable in the past.

And even at the present day many parts of Hellas still follow the old fashion, amongst the Ozolian Locrians and the Aetolians, for instance, and the Acarnanians and that region of the continent; and the custom of carrying arms is still kept up among these mainland peoples from the old piratical habits.

Former practices can still be seen in remote parts of Hellas. Athens was the first polis to adopt luxurious habits; Sparta originated modern styles.

The whole of Hellas used once to carry arms, their habitations being unprotected, and their communication with each other unsafe; indeed, to wear arms was as much a part of everyday life with them as with the barbarians. [2] And the fact that the people in these parts of Hellas are still living in the old way points to a time when the same mode of life was once equally common to all. [3] The Athenians were the first to lay aside their weapons, and to adopt an easier and more luxurious mode of life; indeed, it is only lately that their rich old men left off the luxury of wearing undergarments of linen, and fastening a knot of their hair with a tie of golden grasshoppers, a fashion which spread to their Ionian kindred, and long prevailed among the old men there. [4] On the contrary a modest style of dressing, more in conformity with modern ideas, was first adopted by the Spartans, the rich doing their best to assimilate their way of life to that of the common people. [5] They also set the example of contending naked, publicly stripping and anointing themselves with oil in their gymnastic exercises. Formerly, even in the Olympic games, the athletes who contended wore belts across their middles; and it is but a few years since that the practice ceased. To this day among some of the barbarians, especially in Asia, when prizes for boxing and wrestling are offered, belts are worn by the combatants. [6] And there are many other points in which a likeness might be shown between the life of the Hellenic world of old and the barbarian of today.

Because of piracy, cities were first built away from the sea.

With respect to their cities, later on, at an era of increased facilities of navigation and a greater supply of capital, we find the shores becoming the site of walled cities, and the isthmuses being occupied for the purposes of commerce and defense against a neighbor. But the old cities, on account of the great prevalence of piracy, were built away from the sea, whether on the islands or the continent, and still remain in their old sites. For the pirates used to plunder one another, and indeed all coast populations, whether seafaring or not.

Thucydides cites evidence from graves that early islanders were Carians. After Minos expelled the pirates, cities expanded, accumulated capital, and built walls to protect themselves.

The islanders, too, were great pirates. These islanders were Carians and Phoenicians, by whom most of the islands were colonized, as was proved by the following fact. During the purification of Delos by Athens in this war all the graves in the island were taken up, and it was found that above half their inmates were Carians: they were identified by the fashion of the arms buried with them, and by the method of interment, which was the same as the Carians still follow. [2] But as soon as Minos had formed his navy, communication by sea became easier, [3] as he colonized most of the islands, and thus expelled the evildoers. The coast populations now began to apply themselves more closely to the acquisition of wealth, and their life became more settled; some even began to build themselves walls on the strength of their newly acquired riches. For the love of gain would reconcile the weaker to the dominion of the stronger, and the possession of capital enabled the more powerful to reduce the smaller cities to subjection. [4] And it was at a somewhat later stage of this development that they went on the expedition against Trov.

Thucydides describes how Agamemnon inherited his great power, which included naval power.

What enabled Agamemnon to raise the armament was more, in my opinion, his superiority in strength, than the oaths of Tyndareus, which bound the Suitors to follow him. [2] Indeed, the account given by those Peloponnesians who have been the recipients of the most credible tradition is this. First of all Pelops, arriving from Asia with vast wealth among a needy population, acquired such power that, stranger though he was, the country was called after him; and this power fortune saw fit materially to increase in the hands of his descendants. Eurystheus had been killed in Attica by the Heraclids. When Eurystheus set out on his expedition (to Attica), he committed Mycenae and its government to Atreus, his mother’s brother, who had left his father on account of the death of Chrysippus. As time went on and Eurystheus did not return, Atreus complied with the wishes of the Mycenaeans, who were influenced by fear of the Heraclids—besides, his powers seemed considerable and he had not neglected to seek the favor of the populace—and assumed the rule of Mycenae and of the rest of the dominions of Eurystheus. And so the power of the descendants of Pelops came to be greater than that of the descendants of Perseus. [3] To all this Agamemnon succeeded. He had also a navy far stronger than his contemporaries, so that, in my opinion, fear was quite as strong an element as love in the formation of the expedition. [4] The strength of his navy is shown by the fact that his own was the largest contingent, and that of the Arcadians was furnished by him; this at least is what Homer says, if his testimony is deemed sufficient. Besides, in his account of the transmission of the scepter, he calls him

Of many an isle, and of all Argos king.

Now Agamemnon’s was a continental power; and he could not have been master of any except the adjacent islands (and these would not be many), if he had not possessed a fleet.

The size and magnificence of a city’s ruins do not necessarily indicate its power: witness Sparta and Athens. Homer’s description of the armada against Troy indicates its small size relative to current fleets.

And from this expedition we may infer the character of earlier enterprises. [1.10.1] Now Mycenae may have been a small place, and many of the cities of that age may appear comparatively insignificant, but no exact observer would therefore feel justified in rejecting the estimate given by the poets and by tradition of the magnitude of the armament. [2] For I suppose that if Sparta were to become desolate, and only the temples and the foundations of the public buildings were left, that as time went on there would be a strong disposition with posterity to refuse to accept her fame as a true exponent of her power. And yet they occupy two-fifths of the Peloponnesus and lead the whole, not to speak of their numerous allies outside. Still, as the city is neither built in a compact form nor adorned with magnificent temples and public edifices, but composed of villages after the old fashion of Hellas, there would be an impression of inadequacy. Whereas, if Athens were to suffer the same misfortune, I suppose that any inference from the appearance presented to the eye would make her power to have been twice as great as it is. [3] We have therefore no right to be skeptical, nor to content ourselves with an inspection of a city without considering its power; but we may safely conclude that the armament in question surpassed all before it, just as it fell short of modern efforts; if we can here also accept the testimony of Homer’s poems in which, without allowing for the exaggeration which a poet would feel himself licensed to employ, we can see that it was far from equaling ours. [4] He has represented it as consisting of twelve hundred vessels; the Boeotian complement of each ship being a hundred and twenty men, that of the ships of Philoctetes fifty. By this, I conceive, he meant to convey the maximum and the minimum complement: at any rate he does not specify the amount of any others in his catalogue of the ships. That they were all rowers as well as warriors we see from his account of the ships of Philoctetes, in which all the men at the oar are bowmen. Now it is improbable that many who were not members of the crew sailed if we except the kings and high officers; especially as they had to cross the open sea with munitions of war, in ships, moreover, that had no decks, but were equipped in the old piratical fashion. [5] So that if we strike the average of the largest and smallest ships, the number of those who sailed will appear inconsiderable, representing as they did, the whole force of Hellas.

A lack of money forced the Greeks at Troy to disperse their force, reduce siege efforts, and forego a quick victory.

And this was due not so much to scarcity of men as of money. Difficulty of subsistence made the invaders reduce the numbers of the army to a point at which it might live on the country during the prosecution of the war. Even after the victory they obtained on their arrival—and a victory there must have been, or the fortifications of the naval camp could never have been built—there is no indication of their whole force having been employed; on the contrary, they seem to have turned to cultivation of the Chersonese and to piracy from want of supplies. This was what really enabled the Trojans to keep the field for ten years against them; the dispersion of the enemy making them always a match for the detachment left behind. [2] If they had brought plenty of supplies with them, and had persevered in the war without scattering for piracy and agriculture, they would have easily defeated the Trojans in the field; since they could hold their own against them with the division on service. In short, if they had stuck to the siege, the capture of Troy would have cost them less time and less trouble. But as want of money proved the weakness of earlier expeditions, so from the same cause even the one in question, more famous than its predecessors, may be pronounced on the evidence of what it accomplished, to have been inferior to its renown and to the current opinion about it formed under the tuition of the poets.



Migration and turmoil occurred in Hellas after the Trojan war. When tranquillity returned, Ionia, the islands, Italy, and Sicily were colonized.

Even after the Trojan war Hellas was still engaged in removing and settling, and thus could not attain to the quiet which must precede growth. [2] The late return of the Hellenes from Ilium caused many revolutions, and factions ensued almost everywhere; and it was the citizens thus driven into exile who founded the cities. [3] Sixty years after the capture of Ilium the modern Boeotians were driven out of Arne by the Thessalians, and settled in the present Boeotia, the former Cadmeian land; though there was a division of them there before, some of whom joined the expedition to Ilium. Twenty years later the Dorians and the Heraclids became masters of the Peloponnesus; so that much had to be done [4] and many years had to elapse before Hellas could attain to a durable tranquillity undisturbed by removals, and could begin to send out colonies, as Athens did to Ionia and most of the islands, and the Peloponnesians to most of Italy and Sicily and some places in the rest of Hellas. All these places were founded subsequently to the war with Troy.

As the cities of Hellas grew in wealth and power, traditional monarchies gave way to tyrannies. Corinth developed triremes.

But as the power of Hellas grew, and the acquisition of wealth became more an objective, the revenues of the states increasing, tyrannies were established almost everywhere—the old form of government being hereditary monarchy with definite prerogatives—and Hellas began to fit out fleets and apply herself more closely to the sea. [2] It is said that the Corinthians were the first to approach the modern style of naval architecture, and that Corinth was the first place in Hellas where triremes were built; [3] and we have Ameinocles, a Corinthian shipwright, making four ships for the Samians. Dating from the end of this war, it is nearly three hundred years ago that Ameinocles went to Samos. [4] Again, the earliest sea fight in history was between the Corinthians and Corcyraeans; this was about two hundred and sixty years ago, dating from the same time. [5] Planted on an isthmus, Corinth had always been a commercial emporium; as formerly almost all communication between the Hellenes within and without the Peloponnesus was carried on overland, and the Corinthian territory was the highway through which it traveled. She had consequently great money resources, as is shown by the epithet “wealthy” bestowed by the old poets on the place, and this enabled her, when traffic by sea became more common, to procure her navy and put down piracy; and as she could offer a market for both branches of the trade, she acquired for herself all the power which a large revenue affords. [6] Subsequently the Ionians attained to great naval strength in the reign of Cyrus, the first king of the Persians, and of his son Cambyses, and while they were at war with the former commanded for a while the seas around Ionia. Polycrates also, the tyrant of Samos, had a powerful navy in the reign of Cambyses with which he reduced many of the islands, and among them Rhenea, which he consecrated to the Delian Apollo. About this time also the Phocaeans, while they were founding Marseilles, defeated the Carthaginians in a sea fight.

Navies deploying many triremes developed just before the conflict with Persia.

These were the most powerful navies. And even these, although so many generations had elapsed since the Trojan war, seem to have been principally composed of the old fifty-oars and long-boats, and to have counted few triremes among their ranks. [2] Indeed it was only shortly before the Persian war and the death of Darius the successor of Cambyses, that the Sicilian tyrants and the Corcyraeans acquired any large number of triremes. For after these there were no navies of any account in Hellas till the expedition of Xerxes; [3] Aegina, Athens, and others may have possessed a few vessels, but they were principally fifty-oars. It was quite at the end of this period that the war with Aegina and the prospect of the barbarian invasion enabled Themistocles to persuade the Athenians to build the fleet with which they fought at Salamis; and even these vessels had not complete decks.

Even the small navies of the past were instruments of real power.

The navies, then, of the Hellenes during the period we have traversed were what I have described. All their insignificance did not prevent their being an element of the greatest power to those who cultivated them, alike in revenue and in dominion. They were the means by which the islands were reached and reduced, those of the smallest area falling the easiest prey. [2] Wars by land there were none, none at least by which power was acquired; we have the usual border contests, but of distant expeditions with conquest the object we hear nothing among the Hellenes. There was no union of subject cities round a great state, no spontaneous combination of equals for confederate expeditions; what fighting there was consisted merely of local warfare between rival neighbors. [3] The nearest approach to a coalition took place in the old war between Chalcis and Eretria; this was a quarrel in which the rest of the Hellenic world did to some extent take sides.

Persia conquers Ionia and the islands.

Various, too, were the obstacles which the national growth encountered in various localities. The power of the Ionians was advancing with rapid strides, when it came into collision with Persia, under King Cyrus, who, after having dethroned Croesus and overrun everything between the Halys and the sea, stopped not till he had reduced the cities of the coast; the islands only being left to be subdued by Darius and the Phoenician navy.



Tyrants in Hellas itself, unlike those in Sicily, did not greatly extend their power.

Again, wherever there were tyrants, their habit of providing simply for themselves, of looking solely to their personal comfort and family aggrandizement, made safety the great aim of their policy, and prevented anything great proceeding from them; though they would each have their affairs with their immediate neighbors. All this is only true of the mother country, for in Sicily they attained to very great power. Thus for a long time everywhere in Hellas do we find causes which make the states alike incapable of combination for great and national ends, or of any vigorous action of their own.

Sparta put down Hellenic tyrants and led Greek resistance to Persia. After the Persians’ defeat Athens and Sparta quarreled.

But at last a time came when the tyrants of Athens and the far older tyrannies of the rest of Hellas were, with the exception of those in Sicily, once and for all put down by Sparta; for this city, though after the settlement of the Dorians, its present inhabitants, it suffered from factions for an unparalleled length of time, still at a very early period obtained good laws, and enjoyed a freedom from tyrants which was unbroken; it has possessed the same form of government for more than four hundred years, reckoning to the end of the late war, and has thus been in a position to arrange the affairs of the other states. Not many years after the deposition of the tyrants, the battle of Marathon was fought between the Medes and the Athenians. [2] Ten years afterwards the barbarian returned with the armada for the subjugation of Hellas. In the face of this great danger the command of the confederate Hellenes was assumed by the Spartans in virtue of their superior power; and the Athenians having made up their minds to abandon their city, broke up their homes, threw themselves into their ships, and became a naval people. This coalition, after repulsing the barbarian, soon afterwards split into two sections, which included the Hellenes who had revolted from the King, as well as those who had shared in the war. At the head of the one stood Athens, at the head of the other Sparta, one the first naval, the other the first military power in Hellas. [3] For a short time the league held together, till the Spartans and Athenians quarreled, and made war upon each other with their allies, a duel into which all the Hellenes sooner or later were drawn, though some might at first remain neutral. So that the whole period from the Median war to this, with some peaceful intervals, was spent by each power in war, either with its rival, or with its own revolted allies, and consequently afforded them constant practice in military matters, and that experience which is learnt in the school of danger.

Thucydides describes the different policies of the Spartan and Athenian alliances.

The policy of Sparta was not to exact tribute from her allies, but merely to secure their subservience to her interests by establishing oligarchies among them; Athens, on the contrary, had by degrees deprived hers of their ships, and imposed instead contributions in money on all except Chios and Lesbos. Both found their resources for this war separately to exceed the sum of their strength when the alliance flourished intact.

Thucydides notes that people accept traditions that are clearly in error, for example, the tale about Harmodius and Aristogiton.

Having now given the result of my inquiries into early times, I grant that there will be a difficulty in believing every particular detail. The way that most men deal with traditions, even traditions of their own country, is to receive them all alike as they are delivered, without applying any critical test whatever. [2] The Athenian public generally believe that Hipparchus was tyrant when he fell by the hands of Harmodius and Aristogiton. They do not know that Hippias, the eldest of the sons of Pisistratus, was really supreme; that Hipparchus and Thessalus were his brothers; and that Harmodius and Aristogiton, suspecting on the very day—indeed at the very moment fixed for the deed—that information had been conveyed to Hippias by their accomplices, concluded that he had been warned. They did not attack Hippias but, not liking to risk their lives and be apprehended for nothing, they fell upon Hipparchus near the temple of the daughters of Leos and slew him as he was arranging the Panathenaic procession. [3] There are many other unfounded ideas current among the rest of the Hellenes, even on matters of contemporary history which have not been obscured by time. For instance, there is the notion that the Spartan kings have two votes each, the fact being that they have only one; and that there is a military company of Pitane, there being simply no such thing. So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand.

Thucydides believes his conclusions to be reliable, and notes that this war was much greater than earlier ones.

On the whole, however, the conclusions I have drawn from the proofs quoted may, I believe, safely be relied upon. Assuredly they will not be disturbed either by the verses of a poet displaying the exaggeration of his craft, or by the compositions of the chroniclers that are attractive at truth’s expense; the subjects they treat of being out of the reach of evidence, and time having robbed most of them of historical value by enthroning them in the region of legend. Turning from these, we can rest satisfied with having proceeded upon the clearest data, and having arrived at conclusions as exact as can be expected in matters of such antiquity. [2] To come to this war; despite the known disposition of the actors in a struggle to overrate its importance, and when it is over to return to their admiration of earlier events, yet an examination of the facts will show that it was much greater than the wars which preceded it.

Thucydides discusses the speeches in his text. He says it lacks romance because he intends it to be “a possession for all time.”

With reference to the speeches in this history, some were delivered before the war began, others while it was going on; some I heard myself, others I got from various quarters; it was in all cases difficult to carry them word for word in one’s memory, so my habit has been to make the speakers say what was in my opinion demanded of them by the various occasions, of course adhering as closely as possible to the general sense of what they really said. [2] And with reference to the narrative of events, far from permitting myself to derive it from the first source that came to hand, I did not even trust my own impressions, but it rests partly on what I saw myself, partly on what others saw for me, the accuracy of the report being always tried by the most severe and detailed tests possible. [3] My conclusions have cost me some labor from the want of coincidence between accounts of the same occurrences by different eyewitnesses, arising sometimes from imperfect memory, sometimes from undue partiality for one side or the other. [4] The absence of romance in my history will, I fear, detract somewhat from its interest; but if it be judged useful by those inquirers who desire an exact knowledge of the past as an aid to the understanding of the future, which in the course of human things must resemble if it does not reflect it, I shall be content. In fine, I have written my work, not as an essay which is to win the applause of the moment, but as a possession for all time.

Thucydides compares the Persian war and the much longer Peloponnesian War, and states that the latter’s true cause was Spartan fear of the growth of Athenian power.

The Median war, the greatest achievement of past times, yet found a speedy decision in two actions by sea and two by land. The Peloponnesian War went on for a very long time and there occurred during it disasters of a kind and number that no other similar period of time could match. [2] Never had so many cities been taken and laid desolate, here by the barbarians, here by the parties contending (the old inhabitants being sometimes removed to make room for others); never was there so much banishing and bloodshedding, now on the field of battle, now in political strife. [3] Old stories of occurrences handed down by tradition, but scantily confirmed by experience, suddenly ceased to be incredible; there were earthquakes of unparalleled extent and violence; eclipses of the sun occurred with a frequency unrecorded in previous history; there were great droughts in sundry places and consequent famines, and that most calamitous and awfully fatal visitation, the plague. All this came upon them with the late war, [4] which was begun by the Athenians and Peloponnesians with the dissolution of the Thirty Years’ Peace made after the conquest of Euboea. [5] To the question why they broke the treaty, I answer by placing first an account of their grounds of complaint and points of difference, that no one may ever have to ask the immediate cause which plunged the Hellenes into a war of such magnitude. [6] The real cause, however, I consider to be the one which was formally most kept out of sight. The growth of the power of Athens, and the alarm which this inspired in Sparta, made war inevitable. Still it is well to give the grounds alleged by either side, which led to the dissolution of the treaty and the breaking out of the war.

Beset by civil strife, the commons of Epidamnus solicit aid from their “mother city,” Corcyra, but she refuses them.

The city of Epidamnus stands on the right of the entrance of the Ionic gulf. Its vicinity is inhabited by the Taulantians, an Illyrian people. [2] The place is a colony from Corcyra, founded by Phalius son of Eratocleides, of the family of the Heraclids, who had according to ancient usage been summoned for the purpose from Corinth, the mother country. The colonists were joined by some Corinthians, and others of the Dorian race. [3] Now, as time went on, the city of Epidamnus became great and populous; [4] but falling a prey to factions arising, it is said, from a war with neighboring barbarians, she became much enfeebled, and lost a considerable amount of her power. [5] The last act before the war was the expulsion of those in power by The People. The exiled party joined the barbarians, and proceeded to plunder those in the city by sea and land; [6] and the Epidamnians finding themselves hard pressed, sent ambassadors to Corcyra beseeching their mother country not to allow them to perish, but to make up matters between them and the exiles, and to rid them of the war with the barbarians. [7] The ambassadors seated themselves in the temple of Hera as suppliants, and made the above requests to the Corcyraeans. But the Corcyraeans refused to accept their supplication, and they were dismissed without having effected anything.

After consulting the oracle at Delphi, Epidamnus seeks and obtains promises of Corinthian help. Corinth had long resented Corcyra’s contempt for her.

When the Epidamnians found that no help could be expected from Corcyra, they were in a quandary about what to do next. So they sent to Delphi and inquired of the god, whether they should deliver their city to the Corinthians, and endeavor to obtain some assistance from their founders. The answer he gave them was to deliver the city, and place themselves under Corinthian protection. [2] So the Epidamnians went to Corinth, and delivered over the colony in obedience to the commands of the oracle. They showed that their founder came from Corinth, and revealed the answer of the god; and they begged them not to allow them to perish, but to assist them. [3] This the Corinthians consented to do. Believing the colony to belong as much to themselves as to the Corcyraeans, they felt it to be a kind of duty to undertake their protection. Besides, they hated the Corcyraeans for their contempt of the mother country. [4] Instead of meeting with the usual honors accorded to the parent city by every other colony at public assemblies, such as precedence at sacrifices, Corinth found herself treated with contempt by a power, which in point of wealth could stand comparison with any state, even the richest in Hellas, which possessed great military strength, and which sometimes could not repress a pride in the high naval position of an island whose nautical renown dated from the days of its old inhabitants, the Phaeacians. This was one reason for the care that they lavished on their fleet, which became very efficient; indeed they began the war with a force of a hundred and twenty triremes.

When Corinthian settlers arrive at Epidamnus, Corcyra decides to support the Epidamnian exiles and besieges Epidamnus.

All these grievances made Corinth eager to send the promised aid to Epidamnus. Advertisement was made for volunteer settlers, and a force of Ambraciots, Leucadians, and Corinthians was despatched. [2] They marched by land to Apollonia, a Corinthian colony, the route by sea being avoided from fear of Corcyraean interruption. [3] When the Corcyraeans heard of the arrival of the settlers and troops in Epidamnus, and the surrender of the colony to Corinth, they took fire. Instantly putting to sea with five-and-twenty ships, which were quickly followed by others, they insolently commanded the Epidamnians to receive back the banished party (it must be premised that the Epidamnian exiles had come to Corcyra, and pointing to the sepulchers of their ancestors, had appealed to their kindred to restore them)—and to dismiss the Corinthian garrison and settlers. [4] But to all this the Epidamnians turned a deaf ear. Upon this the Corcyraeans commenced operations against them with a fleet of forty ships. They took with them the exiles, with a view to their restoration, and also secured the services of the Illyrians. Sitting down before the city, they issued a proclamation to the effect that any of the Epidamnians that chose, and of the foreigners, might depart unharmed, with the alternative of being treated as enemies. On their refusal the Corcyraeans proceeded to besiege the city, which stands on an isthmus; [1.27.1] and the Corinthians, receiving intelligence of the investment of Epidamnus, got together an armament and called for volunteers to go to a colony at Epidamnus, complete political equality being guaranteed to all who chose to go. Any who were not prepared to sail at once might by paying down the sum of fifty Corinthiandrachmae have a share in the colony without leaving Corinth. Great numbers took advantage of this proclamation, some being ready to start directly, others paying the requisite forfeit. [2] In case of their passage being disputed by the Corcyraeans, several cities were asked to lend them a convoy. Megara prepared to accompany them with eight ships, Pale in Cephallenia with four; Epidaurus furnished five, Hermione one, Troezen two, Leucas ten, and Ambracia eight. The Thebans and Phliasians were asked for money, the Eleans for unmanned hulls as well; while Corinth herself furnished thirty ships and three thousand hoplites.



Corinth organizes a large force to colonize and rescue Epidamnus from Corcyra.

Corcyra offers to submit the dispute to arbitration or to the god at Delphi.

When the Corcyraeans heard of their preparations they came to Corinth with envoys from Sparta and Sicyon, whom they persuaded to accompany them, and bade her recall the garrison and settlers, as she had nothing to do with Epidamnus. [2] If, however, she had any claims to make, they were willing to submit the matter to the arbitration of such of the cities in the Peloponnesus as should be chosen by mutual agreement, and to accept that the colony should remain with the city to whom the arbitrators might assign it. They were also willing to refer the matter to the oracle at Delphi. [3] If, in defiance of their protestations, war was resorted to, they should be themselves compelled by this violence to seek friends in quarters where they had no desire to seek them, and to make even old ties give way to the necessity of assistance. [4] The answer they got from Corinth was, that if they would withdraw their fleet and the barbarians from Epidamnus, negotiation might be possible; but, while the city was still being besieged, going before arbitrators was out of the question. [5] The Corcyraeans retorted that if Corinth would withdraw her troops from Epidamnus they would withdraw theirs, or they were ready to let both parties remain where they were, an armistice being concluded till judgment could be given.

Corinth refuses Corcyra’s proposals, declares war, and sends a fleet. It is defeated. Epidamnus surrenders.

Turning a deaf ear to all these proposals, when their ships were manned and their allies had come in, the Corinthians sent a herald before them to declare war, and getting under weigh with seventy-five ships and two thousand hoplites, sailed for Epidamnus to give battle to the Corcyraeans. [2] The fleet was under the command of Aristeus son of Peluchas, Callicrates son of Callias, and Timanor son of Timanthes; the troops under that of Archetimus son of Eurytimus, and Isarchidas son of Isarchus. [3] When they had reached Actium in the territory of Anactorium, at the mouth of the gulf of Ambracia, where the temple of Apollo stands, the Corcyraeans sent on a herald in a light boat to warn them not to sail against them. Meanwhile they proceeded to man their ships, all of which had been equipped for action, the old vessels being tightened to make them sea-worthy. [4] On the return of the herald without any peaceful answer from the Corinthians, their ships being now manned, they put out to sea to meet the enemy with a fleet of eighty sail (forty were engaged in the siege of Epidamnus), formed line and went into action, and gained a decisive victory, [5] and destroyed fifteen of the Corinthian vessels. The same day had seen Epidamnus compelled by its besiegers to capitulate; the conditions being that the foreigners should be sold, and the Corinthians kept as prisoners of war, till their fate should be otherwise decided.

The Corcyraeans now control the Ionian Gulf, but Corinth organizes a new fleet to challenge them again.

After the engagement the Corcyraeans set up a trophy on Leukimme, a headland of Corcyra, and slew all their captives except the Corinthians, whom they kept as prisoners of war. [2] Defeated at sea, the Corinthians and their allies returned home and left the Corcyraeans masters of all the sea about those parts. Sailing to Leucas, a Corinthian colony, they ravaged their territory, and burnt Cyllene, the harbor of the Eleans, because they had furnished ships and money to Corinth. [3] For almost the whole of the period that followed the battle they remained masters of the sea, and the allies of Corinth were harassed by Corcyraean vessels. At last Corinth, roused by the sufferings of her allies, sent out ships and troops in the fall of the summer, who formed an encampment at Actium and about Chimerium, in Thesprotis, for the protection of Leucas and the rest of the friendly cities. [4] The Corcyraeans for their part formed a similar station on Leukimme. Neither party made any movement, but they remained confronting each other till the end of the summer, and winter was at hand before either of them returned home.

Alarmed by Corinthian threats, Corcyra sends envoys to Athens to ask for help. Corinth also sends envoys to Athens to present her position.

Corinth, exasperated by the war with the Corcyraeans, spent the whole of the year after the engagement and that succeeding it in building ships, and in straining every nerve to form an efficient fleet; rowers being drawn from the Peloponnesus and the rest of Hellas by the inducement of large bounties. [2] The Corcyraeans, alarmed at the news of their preparations, being without a single ally in Hellas (for they had not enrolled themselves either in the Athenian or in the Spartan confederacy), decided to appeal to Athens in order to enter into alliance, and to endeavor to procure support from her. [3] Corinth also, hearing of their intentions, sent an embassy to Athens to prevent the Corcyraean navy being joined by the Athenian and her prospect of ordering the war according to her wishes being thus impeded. An assembly was convoked, and the rival advocates appeared: the Corcyraeans spoke as follows:

Speaking to the Athenian assembly, the Corcyraeans acknowledge that their past policy of avoiding alliances has now left them dangerously isolated.

“Athenians! when a people that have not rendered any important service or support to their neighbors in times past, for which they might claim to be repaid, appear before them as we now appear before you to solicit their assistance, they may fairly be required to satisfy certain preliminary conditions. They should show, first, that it is expedient or at least safe to grant their request; next, that they will retain a lasting sense of the kindness. But if they cannot clearly establish any of these points, they must not be annoyed if they meet with a rebuff. [2] Now the Corcyraeans believe that with their petition for assistance they can also give you a satisfactory answer on these points, and they have therefore despatched us hither. [3] It has so happened that our policy as regards you, with respect to this request, turns out to be inconsistent, and as regards our interests, to be at the present crisis inexpedient. [4] We say inconsistent, because a power which has never in the whole of her past history been willing to ally herself with any of her neighbors, is now found asking them to ally themselves with her. And we say inexpedient, because in our present war with Corinth it has left us in a position of entire isolation, and what once seemed the wise precaution of refusing to involve ourselves in alliances with other powers, lest we should also involve ourselves in risks of their choosing, has now proved to be folly and weakness. [5] It is true that in the late naval engagement we drove back the Corinthians from our shores single-handed. But they have now got together a still larger armament from the Peloponnesus and the rest of Hellas; and we, seeing our utter inability to cope with them without foreign aid, and the magnitude of the danger which subjection to them implies, find it necessary to ask help from you and from every other power. And we hope to be excused if we forswear our old principle of complete political isolation, a principle which was not adopted with any sinister intention, but was rather the consequence of an error in judgment.”

The Corcyraeans argue that because they are the second greatest naval power in Greece, their offer of alliance is an extraordinary opportunity for Athens, particularly since Sparta will surely start a war against Athens soon.

“Now there are many reasons why in the event of your compliance you will congratulate yourselves on this request having been made to you. First, because your assistance will be rendered to a power which, herself inoffensive, is a victim to the injustice of others. Secondly, because all that we most value is at stake in the present contest, and by acceding to our request under these circumstances you will give unforgettable proof of your goodwill and create in us a lasting sense of gratitude. [2] Thirdly, yourselves excepted, we are the greatest naval power in Hellas. Can you conceive a stroke of good fortune more rare in itself, or more disheartening to your enemies, than that the power whose adhesion you would have valued above much material and moral strength, should present herself self-invited, should deliver herself into your hands without danger and without expense, and should lastly put you in the way of gaining a high character in the eyes of the world, the gratitude of those whom you shall assist, and a great accession of strength for yourselves? You may search all history without finding many instances of a people gaining all these advantages at once, or many instances of a power that comes in quest of assistance being in a position to give to the people whose alliance she solicits as much safety and honor as she will receive. [3] But it will be urged that it is only in the case of a war that we shall be found useful. To this we answer that if any of you imagine that the war is far off, he is grievously mistaken, and is blind to the fact that the Spartans out of fear of you want war, and that Corinth is influential with them—the same, remember, that is your enemy, and is even now trying to subdue us as a preliminary to attacking you. And this she does to prevent our becoming united by a common enmity, and her having us both on her hands, and also to insure getting the jump on you in one of two ways, either by crippling our power or by making its strength her own. [4] Now it is our policy to preempt her—that is, for Corcyra to make an offer of alliance and for you to accept it; in fact, we ought to form plans against her instead of waiting to defeat the plans she forms against us.”

The Corcyraeans report that Corinth has attempted to dominate Corcyra and refuses Corcyra’s offer of arbitration.

Claiming that their alliance with Athens will not breach existing treaties, the Corcyraeans argue that Athens should prevent their naval power from becoming subject to a potential enemy of Athens.

“If she asserts that for you to receive a colony of hers into alliance is not right, let her know that every colony that is well treated honors its parent state, but becomes estranged from it by injustice. For colonists are not sent forth on the understanding that they are to be the slaves of those that remain behind, but that they are to be their equals. [2] And that Corinth was injuring us is clear. Invited to refer the dispute about Epidamnus to arbitration, they chose to prosecute their complaints by war rather than by a fair trial. [3] And let their conduct toward us who are their kindred be a warning to you not to be misled by their deceit, nor to yield to their direct requests; concessions to adversaries only end in self-reproach, and the more strictly they are avoided the greater will be the chance of security.”

“If it be urged that your reception of us will be a breach of the treaty existing between you and Sparta, the answer is that we are a neutral state, [2] and that one of the express provisions of that treaty is that it shall be open to any Hellenic state that is neutral to join whichever side it pleases. [3] And it is intolerable for Corinth to be allowed to obtain men for her navy not only from her allies, but also from the rest of Hellas, no small number being furnished by your own subjects; while we are to be excluded both from the alliance left open to us by treaty, and from any assistance that we might get from other quarters, and you are to be accused of political immorality if you comply with our request. [4] On the other hand, we shall have much greater cause to complain of you, if you do not comply with it; if we, who are in peril, and are no enemies of yours, meet with a repulse at your hands, while Corinth, who is the aggressor and your enemy, not only meets with no hindrance from you, but is even allowed to draw material for war from your dependencies. This ought not to be, but you should either forbid her enlisting men in your dominions, or you should lend us too what help you may think advisable.”

[5] “But your real policy is to afford us open approval and support. The advantages of this course, as we premised in the beginning of our speech, are many. We mention one that is perhaps the chief. Could there be a clearer guarantee of our good faith than is offered by the fact that the power which is at enmity with you, is also at enmity with us, and that power is fully able to punish defection. And there is a wide difference between declining the alliance of an inland and of a maritime power. For your first endeavor should be to prevent, if possible, the existence of any naval power except your own; failing this, to secure the friendship of the strongest that does exist.”

Reminding the Athenians of Corcyra’s strategic location on the route to Italy and Sicily, the Corcyraeans conclude by warning that if Athens refuses alliance now, she may well confront combined Corcyraean and Peloponnesian fleets in a future

“And if any of you believe that what we urge is expedient, but fear to act upon this belief, lest it should lead to a breach of the treaty, you must remember that on the one hand, whatever your fears, your strength will be formidable to your antagonists; on the other, whatever the confidence you derive from refusing to receive us, you will be the weaker and less terrifying to a strengthened enemy. You must also remember that your decision is for Athens no less than for Corcyra, and that you are not making the best provision for her interests if, at a time when you are anxiously scanning the horizon that you may be in readiness for the breaking out of the war which is all but upon you, you hesitate to attach to your side a place whose adhesion or estrangement is alike pregnant with the most vital consequences. [2] For it lies conveniently for the coast navigation in the direction of Italy and Sicily, being able to bar the passage of naval reinforcements from there to the Peloponnesus, and from the Peloponnesus to there; and it is in other respects most suitably positioned. [3] To sum up as shortly as possible, embracing both general and particular considerations, let this show you the folly of sacrificing us. Remember that there are but three considerable naval powers in Hellas, Athens, Corcyra, and Corinth, and that if you allow two of these three to become one, and Corinth to secure us for herself, you will have to hold the sea against the united fleets of Corcyra and the Peloponnesus. But if you receive us, you will have our ships to reinforce you in the struggle.”

[4] Such were the words of the Corcyraeans. After they had finished, the Corinthians spoke as follows:

The Corinthians accuse Corcyra of having pursued a policy of isolation so as to use their geographic position to abuse the many ships forced to put into Corcyra.

“These Corcyraeans in the speech we have just heard do not confine themselves to the question of their reception into your alliance. They also talk of our being guilty of injustice, and their being the victims of an unjustifiable war. It becomes necessary for us to touch upon both these points before we proceed to the rest of what we have to say, that you may have a more correct idea of the grounds of our claim, and have good cause to reject their petition. [2] According to them, their old policy of refusing all offers of alliance was a policy of moderation. It was in fact adopted for bad ends, not for good; indeed their conduct is such as to make them by no means desirous of having allies present to witness it, or of having the shame of asking their concurrence. [3] Besides, their geographical situation makes them independent of others, and consequently the decision in cases where they injure any lies not with judges appointed by mutual agreement, but with themselves, because while they seldom make voyages to their neighbors, they are constantly being visited by foreign vessels which are compelled to put in to Corcyra. [4] In short, the object that they propose to themselves in their specious policy of complete isolation, is not to avoid sharing in the crimes of others, but to secure a monopoly of crime to themselves—the license of outrage wherever they can compel, and of fraud wherever they can elude, and the enjoyment of their gains without shame. [5] And yet if they were the honest men they pretend to be, the less hold that others had upon them, the stronger would be the light in which they might have put their honesty by giving and taking what was just.”

The Corinthians claim that Corcyra has always treated them with inappropriate disdain that now at Epidamnus has become open hostility.

ATHENS The Corinthians argue that Corcyra offered arbitration only after she began to fear Corinthian retaliation, and that her fear also motivates her request for an Athenian alliance.

“But such has not been their conduct either toward others or toward us. The attitude of our colony toward us has always been one of estrangement, and is now one of hostility; for, say they, ‘We were not sent out to be ill-treated.’ [2] We rejoin that we did not found the colony to be insulted by them, but to be their head, and to be regarded with a proper respect. [3] At any rate, our other colonies honor us, and we are very much beloved by our colonists; [4] and clearly, if the majority are satisfied with us, these can have no good reason for a dissatisfaction in which they stand alone, and we are not acting improperly in making war against them, nor are we making war against them without having received severe provocation. [5] Besides, if we were in the wrong, it would be honorable in them to give way to our wishes, and disgraceful for us to trample on their moderation; but in the pride and license of wealth they have sinned again and again against us, and never more deeply than when Epidamnus, our dependency, which they took no steps to claim in its distress, upon our coming to relieve it, was by them seized, and is now held by force of arms.”

“As to their allegation that they wished the question to be first submitted to arbitration, it is obvious that a challenge coming from the party who is safe in a commanding position cannot gain the credit due only to him who, before appealing to arms, in deeds as well as words, places himself on a level with his adversary. [2] In their case, it was not before they laid siege to the place, but after they at length understood that we would not tamely suffer it, that they thought of the specious word arbitration. And not satisfied with their own misconduct there, they appear here now requiring you to join with them not in alliance, but in crime, and to receive them in spite of their being at enmity with us. [3] But it was when they stood firmest that they should have made overtures to you, and not at a time when we have been wronged and they are in peril; nor yet at a time when you will be admitting to a share in your protection those who never admitted you to a share in their power, and will be incurring an equal amount of blame from us with those in whose offenses you had no hand. No, they should have shared their power with you before they asked you to share your fortunes with them.”

The Corinthians threaten enmity and retaliation if Athens should ally with Corcyra, and remind the Athenians of Corinth’s past support for them against rebellious Samos.

“So then the reality of the grievances we come to complain of and the violence and rapacity of our opponents have both been proved. But that you cannot equitably receive them, this you have still to learn. [2] It may be true that one of the provisions of the treaty is that it shall be competent for any state, whose name was not down on the list, to join whichever side it pleases. But this agreement is not meant for those whose object in joining is the injury of other powers, but for those whose need of support does not arise from the fact of defection, and whose adhesion will not bring to the power that is mad enough to receive them war instead of peace; which will be the case with you, if you refuse to listen to us. [3] For you cannot become their auxiliary and remain our friend; if you join in their attack, you must share the punishment which the defenders inflict on them. [4] And yet you have the best possible right to be neutral, or failing this, you should on the contrary join us against them. Corinth is at least in treaty with you; with Corcyra you were never even in truce. But do not propose the principle that those defecting from others are to be welcomed. [5] Did we on the defection of the Samians record our vote against you, when the rest of the Peloponnesian powers were equally divided on the question whether they should assist them? No, we told them to their face that every power has a right to punish its own allies. [6] Why, if you make it your policy to receive and assist all offenders, you will find that just as many of your dependencies will come over to us, and the principle that you establish will press less heavily on us than on yourselves.”

The Corinthians demand gratitude for their help in Athens’ war with Aegina and the revolt of Samos.

The Corinthians call upon the Athenians to return past favors and not incur Corinth’s enmity to secure a naval alliance.

The Corinthians conclude by telling the Athenians that their best interests lie in rejecting Corcyra.

“This then is what Hellenic law entitles us to demand as a right. But we have also advice to offer and claims on your gratitude, which, since there is no danger of our injuring you, as we are not enemies, and since our friendship does not amount to very frequent intercourse, we say ought to be liquidated at the present juncture. [2] When you were in want of ships of war for the war against the Aeginetans, before the Persian invasion, Corinth supplied you with twenty vessels. That good turn, and the line we took on the Samian question, when we were the cause of the Peloponnesians refusing to assist them, enabled you to conquer Aegina, and to punish Samos. And we acted thus at crises when, if ever, men are wont in their efforts against their enemies to forget everything for the sake of victory, [3] regarding him who assists them then as a friend, even if thus far he has been a foe, and him who opposes them then as a foe, even if he has thus far been a friend; indeed they allow their real interests to suffer from their absorbing preoccupation in the struggle.”

“Weigh well these considerations, and let your youth learn what they are from their elders, and let them determine to do unto us as we have done unto you. And let them not acknowledge the justice of what we say, but dispute its wisdom in the contingency of war. [2] Not only is the straightest path generally speaking the wisest; but the coming of the war which the Corcyraeans have used as a specter to persuade you to do wrong, is still uncertain, and it is not worth while to be carried away by it into gaining the instant and declared enmity of Corinth. It were, rather, wise to try and counteract the unfavorable impression which your conduct to Megara has created. [3] For kindness opportunely shown has a greater power of removing old grievances than the facts of the case may warrant. And do not be seduced by the prospect of a great naval alliance. Abstinence from all injustice to other first-rate powers is a greater tower of strength than anything that can be gained by the sacrifice of permanent tranquillity for an apparent temporary advantage.”

“It is now our turn to benefit by the principle that we laid down at Sparta, that every power has a right to punish her own allies. We now claim to receive the same from you, and protest against your rewarding us for benefitting you by our vote by injuring us by yours. [2] On the contrary, return us like for like, remembering that this is that very crisis in which he who lends aid is most a friend, and he who opposes is most a foe. [3] And for these Corcyraeans—neither receive them into alliance in our despite, nor be their abettors in crime. [4] So do, and you will act as we have a right to expect of you, and at the same time best consult your own interest.”

The Athenians vote with a view toward a Peloponnesian war, noting Corcyra’s large fleet and her position on the route to Italy and Sicily.

Such were the words of the Corinthians.

When the Athenians had heard both out, two assemblies were held. In the first there was a manifest disposition to listen to the representations of Corinth; in the second, public feeling had changed, and an alliance with Corcyra was decided on, with certain reservations. It was to be a defensive, not an offensive, alliance. It did not involve a breach of the treaty with the Peloponnesus: Athens could not be required to join Corcyra in any attack upon Corinth. But each of the contracting parties had a right to the other’s assistance against invasion, whether of his own territory, or that of an ally. [2] For it began now to be felt that the coming of the Peloponnesian War was only a question of time, and no one was willing to see a naval power of such magnitude as Corcyra sacrificed to Corinth; though if they could let them weaken each other by mutual conflict, it would be no bad preparation for the struggle which Athens might one day have to wage with Corinth and the other naval powers. [3] At the same time the island seemed to lie conveniently on the coasting passage to Italy and Sicily.

Athens enters a defensive alliance with Corcyra and sends ten triremes to assist her.

With these views, Athens received Corcyra into alliance, and on the departure of the Corinthians not long afterwards, sent ten ships to their assistance. [2] They were commanded by Lacedaemonius son of Cimon, Diotimus son of Strombichus, and Porteas son of Epicles. [3] Their instructions were to avoid collision with the Corinthian fleet except under certain circumstances. If it sailed to Corcyra and threatened a landing on her coast, or in any of her possessions, they were to do their utmost to prevent it. These instructions were prompted by an anxiety to avoid a breach of the treaty.

A Corinthian fleet sails to Chimerium, near Corcyra.

Meanwhile the Corinthians completed their preparations, and sailed for Corcyra with a hundred and fifty ships. Of these Elis furnished ten, Megara twelve, Leucas ten, Ambracia twenty-seven, Anactorium one, and Corinth herself ninety. [2] Each of these contingents had its own admiral, the Corinthian being under the command of Xenocleides son of Euthycles, with four colleagues. [3] Sailing from Leucas, they made land at the part of the continent opposite Corcyra. [4] They anchored in the harbor of Chimerium, in the territory of Thesprotis, above which, at some distance from the sea, lies the city of Ephyre, in the Elean district. By this city the Acherusian lake pours its waters into the sea. It gets its name from the river Acheron which flows through Thesprotis and falls into the lake. There also the river Thyamis flows, forming the boundary between Thesprotis and Kestrine; and between these rivers rises the point of Chimerium. [5] In this part of the continent the Corinthians now came to anchor, and formed an encampment.



Corcyra deploys her fleet and army.

When the Corcyraeans saw them coming, they manned a hundred and ten ships, commanded by Meikiades, Aisimides, and Eurybatus, and stationed themselves at one of the Sybota isles; the ten Athenian ships being present. [2] On point Leukimme they posted their land forces, and a thousand hoplites who had come from Zacynthus to their assistance. Nor were the Corinthians on the mainland without their allies. [3] The barbarians flocked in large numbers to their assistance, the inhabitants of this part of the continent being old allies of theirs.

CORCYRA The two fleets form up for battle.

When the Corinthian preparations were completed they took three days’ provisions, and put out from Chimerium by night, ready for action. [2] Sailing with the dawn, they sighted the Corcyraean fleet out at sea, and coming toward them. [3] When they perceived each other, both sides formed in order of battle. On the Corcyraean right wing lay the Athenian ships, the rest of the line being occupied by their own vessels formed in three squadrons, each of which was commanded by one of the three admirals. [4] Such was the Corcyraean formation. The Corinthian was as follows: on the right wing lay the Megarian and Ambraciot ships, in the center the rest of the allies in order. But the left was composed of the best sailors in the Corinthian navy, to encounter the Athenians and the right wing of the Corcyraeans.

In a long unskillful battle, each side’s left wing is victorious. The Athenian ships at first abstain from joining the battle, then intervene tentatively, then fight hard to prevent a Corcyraean rout.

As soon as the signals were raised on either side, they joined battle. Both sides had a large number of hoplites on their decks, and a large number of archers and javelin throwers, the old imperfect armament still prevailing. [2] The sea fight was an obstinate one, though not remarkable for its science; indeed it was more like a battle by land. [3] Whenever they charged each other, the multitude and crush of the triremes made it by no means easy to get loose; besides, their hopes of victory lay principally in the hoplites on the decks, who stood and fought in order, the ships remaining stationary. The maneuver of passing through the line was not tried: in short, strength and pluck had more share in the fight than science. [4] Everywhere tumult reigned, the battle being one scene of confusion; meanwhile the Athenian triremes, by coming up to the Corcyraeans whenever they were pressed, served to alarm the enemy, though their commanders could not join in the battle from fear of their instructions. [5] The right wing of the Corinthians suffered most. The Corcyraeans routed it, and chased them in disorder to the continent with twenty ships, sailed up to their camp and burnt the tents which they found empty, and plundered the stuff. [6] So in this quarter the Corinthians and their allies were defeated, and the Corcyraeans were victorious. But where the Corinthians themselves were, on the left, they gained a decided success; the scanty forces of the Corcyraeans being further weakened by the want of the twenty triremes absent on the pursuit. [7] Seeing the Corcyraeans hard pressed, the Athenians began at length to assist them more unequivocally. At first, it is true, they refrained from charging any ships; but when the rout was becoming obvious, and the Corinthians were pressing on, the time at last came when every one set to, and all distinction was laid aside, and it came to this point, that the Corinthians and Athenians raised their hands against each other.

The victorious Corinthians massacre survivors, gather up the dead, and tow off hulks. Returning to battle, they sight approaching Athenian reinforcements and retire.

After the rout, the Corinthians, instead of employing themselves in lashing fast and hauling after them the hulls of the triremes which they had disabled, turned their attention to the men, whom they butchered as they sailed through, not caring so much to make prisoners. Some even of their own friends were slain by them, by mistake, in their ignorance of the defeat of the right wing. [2] For the number of the triremes on both sides, and the distance to which they covered the sea, made it difficult after they had once joined, to distinguish between the conquering and the conquered; this battle proving far greater than any before it, any at least between Hellenes, for the number of vessels engaged. [3] After the Corinthians had chased the Corcyraeans to the land, they turned to the wrecks and their dead, most of whom they succeeded in getting hold of and conveying to Sybota, the rendezvous of the land forces furnished by their barbarian allies. Sybota, it must be known, is a desert harbor of Thesprotis. This task over, they mustered anew, and sailed against the Corcyraeans, [4] who on their part advanced to meet them with all their ships that were fit for service and remaining to them, accompanied by the Athenian vessels, fearing that they might attempt a landing in their territory. [5] It was by this time getting late, and the paean had been sung for the attack, when the Corinthians suddenly began to back water. They had observed twenty Athenian ships sailing up, which had been sent out afterwards to reinforce the ten triremes by the Athenians, who feared, as it turned out justly, the defeat of the Corcyraeans and the inability of their handful of ships to protect them. [1.51.1] These ships were thus seen by the Corinthians first. They suspected that they were from Athens, and that those which they saw were not all, but that there were more behind; they accordingly began to retire. [2] The Corcyraeans meanwhile had not sighted them, as they were advancing from a point which they could not so well see, and were wondering why the Corinthians were backing water, when some caught sight of them, and cried out that there were ships in sight ahead. Upon this they also retired; for it was now getting dark, and the retreat of the Corinthians had suspended hostilities. [3] Thus they parted from each other, and the battle ceased with night. [4] The Corcyraeans were in their camp at Leukimme,4a when these twenty triremes from Athens, under the command of Glaucon son of Leagrus and Andocides son of Leogoras bore on through the corpses and the wrecks, and sailed up to the camp, not long after they were sighted. [5] It was now night, and the Corcyraeans feared that they might be hostile vessels; but they soon recognized them, and the ships came to anchor.

Twenty additional Athenian triremes join the Corcyraeans at Leukimme.

The Corinthians fear that the Athenians will try to prevent their departure.

The Athenians tell the Corinthians that the treaty is still valid, that they may not attack Corcyra, but that they may otherwise sail where they wish.

The next day the thirty Athenian vessels put out to sea, accompanied by all the Corcyraean ships that were seaworthy, and sailed to the harbor at Sybota, where the Corinthians lay, to see if they would engage. [2] The Corinthians put out from the land, and formed a line in the open sea, but beyond this made no further movement, having no intention of assuming the offensive. For they saw reinforcements arrived fresh from Athens, and themselves confronted by numerous difficulties, such as the necessity of guarding the prisoners whom they had on board, and the want of all means of refitting their ships in a desert place. [3] What they were thinking more about was how their voyage home was to be effected; they feared that the Athenians might consider that the treaty was dissolved by the fighting which had occurred, and forbid their departure. [1.53.1] Accordingly they resolved to put some men on board a boat, and send them without a herald’s wand to the Athenians, as an experiment. Having done so, they spoke as follows: [2] “You do wrong, Athenians, to begin war and break the treaty. Engaged in chastising our enemies, we find you placing yourselves in our path in arms against us. Now if your intentions are to prevent us sailing to Corcyra, or anywhere else that we may wish, and if you are for breaking the treaty, first take us that are here, and treat us as enemies.” [3] Such was what they said, and all the Corcyraean armament that were within hearing immediately called out to take them and kill them. But the Athenians answered as follows: “Neither are we beginning war, Peloponnesians, nor are we breaking the treaty; but these Corcyraeans are our allies, and we are come to help them. So if you want to sail anywhere else, we place no obstacle in your way; but if you are going to sail against Corcyra, or any of her possessions, we shall do our best to stop you.”

Both sides erect trophies claiming victory.

Receiving this answer from the Athenians, the Corinthians commenced preparations for their voyage home, and set up a trophy in Sybota, on the mainland; while the Corcyraeans took up the wrecks and dead that had been carried out to them by the current, and by a wind which rose in the night and scattered them in all directions, and set up their trophy in Sybota, on the island, as victors. [2] The reasons each side had for claiming the victory were these. The Corinthians had been victorious in the sea fight until night; and having thus been enabled to carry off most wrecks and dead, they were in possession of no fewer than a thousand prisoners of war, and had destroyed nearly seventy vessels. The Corcyraeans had destroyed about thirty ships, and after the arrival of the Athenians had taken up the wrecks and dead on their side; they had besides seen the Corinthians retire before them, backing water on sight of the Athenian vessels, and upon the arrival of the Athenians refuse to sail out against them from Sybota.

The Athenian role at Sybota was the first Corinthian complaint against Athens.

The Corinthians on the voyage home took Anactorium, which stands at the mouth of the Ambracian gulf. The place was taken by treachery, being common ground to the Corcyraeans and Corinthians. After establishing Corinthian settlers there, they retired home. Eight hundred of the Corcyraeans were slaves; these they sold; two hundred and fifty they retained in captivity, and treated with great attention, in the hope that they might bring over their country to Corinth on their return; most of them being, as it happened, men of very high position in Corcyra. [2] In this way Corcyra maintained her political existence in the war with Corinth, and the Athenian vessels left the island. This was the first cause of the war that Corinth had against the Athenians, namely, that they had fought against them with the Corcyraeans in time of treaty.

Athens takes measures against Corinthian influence at Potidaea.

Almost immediately after this, fresh differences arose between the Athenians and Peloponnesians, and contributed their share to the war. [2] Corinth was forming schemes for retaliation, and Athens suspected her hostility. The Potidaeans, who inhabit the isthmus of Pallene, being a Corinthian colony, but tributary allies of Athens, were ordered to raze the wall on the Pallene side of the city, to give hostages, to dismiss the Corinthian magistrates, and in future not to receive the persons sent from Corinth annually to succeed them. It was feared that they might be persuaded by Perdiccas and the Corinthians to revolt, and might draw the rest of the allies in the area of Thrace to revolt with them.

As Perdiccas plots with the Spartans, Chalcidians, and Bottiaeans, Athens sends a fleet to Macedonia.

These precautions against the Potidaeans were taken by the Athenians immediately after the battle at Corcyra. [2] Not only was Corinth at length openly hostile, but Perdiccas son of Alexander, king of the Macedonians, had from an old friend and ally been made an enemy. [3] He had been made an enemy by the Athenians entering into alliance with Philip his brother, and Derdas, who were allied in opposition to him. [4] In his alarm he had sent to Sparta to try and involve the Athenians in a war with the Peloponnesians, and was endeavoring to win over Corinth in order to bring about the revolt of Potidaea. [5] He also made overtures to the Chalcidians in Thrace, and to the Bottiaeans, to persuade them to join in the revolt; for he thought that if these places on the border could be made his allies, it would be easier to carry on the war with their cooperation. [6] Alive to all this, and wishing to anticipate the revolt of the cities, the Athenians acted as follows. They were just then sending off thirty ships and a thousand hoplites to Perdiccas’ territory under the command of Archestratus son of Lycomedes, with four colleagues. They instructed those in command of the ships to take hostages of the Potidaeans, to raze the wall, and to be on their guard against the revolt of the neighboring cities.

When Potidaea fails to placate Athens, and Sparta promises to invade Attica, Potidaea revolts. The Chalcidians move from their coastal cities to Olynthus.

Meanwhile the Potidaeans sent envoys to Athens on the chance of persuading them to take no new steps in regard to them; they also went to Sparta with the Corinthians to secure support in case of need. Failing after prolonged negotiation to obtain anything satisfactory from the Athenians; being unable, for all they could say, to prevent the vessels that were destined for Macedonia from also sailing against them; and receiving from the Spartan authorities a promise to invade Attica if the Athenians should attack Potidaea, the Potidaeans, thus favored by the moment, at last entered into league with the Chalcidians and Bottiaeans, and revolted. [2] And Perdiccas induced the Chalcidians to abandon and demolish their cities on the seaboard, and settling inland at Olynthus, to make that one city a strong place: meanwhile to those who followed his advice he gave a part of his territory in Mygdonia round Lake Bolbe as a place of abode while the war against the Athenians should last. They accordingly demolished their cities, moved inland, and prepared for war.

The Athenian fleet attacks Macedon.

The thirty ships of the Athenians, arriving in the Thracian area, found Potidaea and the rest in revolt. [2] Their commanders considering it to be quite impossible with their present force to carry on war with Perdiccas, and with the confederate cities as well, turned to Macedonia, their original destination, and having established themselves there, carried on war in cooperation with Philip, and the brothers of Derdas, who had invaded the country from the interior.

Corinth sends volunteers and mercenaries to Potidaea.

Meanwhile the Corinthians, with Potidaea in revolt and the Athenian ships on the coast of Macedonia, alarmed for the safety of the place, and thinking its danger theirs, sent volunteers from Corinth, and mercenaries from the rest of the Peloponnesus, to the number of sixteen hundred hoplites in all, and four hundred light troops. [2] Aristeus son of Adimantus, who was always a steady friend to the Potidaeans, took command of the expedition, and it was principally for love of him that most of the men from Corinth volunteered. They arrived in Thrace forty days after the revolt of Potidaea.



The Athenians force Perdiccas to return to his alliance with them, and then march against Potidaea.

The Athenians also immediately received the news of the revolt of the cities. On being informed that Aristeus and his reinforcements were on their way, they sent two thousand hoplites of their own citizens and forty ships against the places in revolt, under the command of Callias son of Calliades, and four colleagues. [2] They arrived in Macedonia first, and found the force of a thousand men that had been first sent out just become masters of Therme and besieging Pydna. [3] Accordingly they also joined in the investment, and besieged Pydna for a while. Subsequently they came to terms and concluded a forced alliance with Perdiccas, hastened by the calls of Potidaea, and by the arrival of Aristeus at that place. They withdrew from Macedonia, [4] going to Beroea and thence to Strepsa, and, after a futile attempt on the latter place, they pursued by land their march to Potidaea with three thousand hoplites of their own citizens, besides a number of their allies, and six hundred Macedonian horsemen, the followers of Philip and Pausanias. With these sailed seventy ships along the coast. Advancing by short marches, on the third day they arrived at Gigonus, where they encamped.

An indecisive battle occurs near Potidaea. Most Potidaeans retire inside their walls.

Meanwhile the Potidaeans and the Peloponnesians with Aristeus were encamped on the Olynthian side of the city on the isthmus, in expectation of the Athenians, and had established a market outside the city. [2] The allies had chosen Aristeus general of all the infantry; while the command of the cavalry was given to Perdiccas, who had now left the alliance of the Athenians and gone back to that of the Potidaeans, having deputed Iolaus as his general. [3] The plan of Aristeus was to keep his own force on the isthmus, and await the attack of the Athenians; leaving the Chalcidians and the allies outside the isthmus, and the two hundred cavalry from Perdiccas in Olynthus to act upon the Athenian rear, on the occasion of their advancing against him; and thus to place the enemy between two fires. [4] While Callias the Athenian general and his colleagues despatched the Macedonian horse and a few of the allies to Olynthus, to prevent any movement being made from that quarter, the Athenians themselves broke up their camp and marched against Potidaea. [5] After they had arrived at the isthmus, and saw the enemy preparing for battle, they formed against him, and soon afterwards engaged. [6] The wing of Aristeus, with the Corinthians and other picked troops round him, routed the wing opposed to it, and followed for a considerable distance in pursuit. But the rest of the army of the Potidaeans and of the Peloponnesians was defeated by the Athenians, and took refuge within the fortifications.

Potidaean troops break through the Athenian lines and enter their city. Olynthian forces retire. Losses are enumerated.

Returning from the pursuit, Aristeus perceived the defeat of the rest of the army. Being at a loss which of the two risks to choose, whether to go to Olynthus or to Potidaea, he at last determined to draw his men into as small a space as possible, and force his way with a run into Potidaea. Not without difficulty, through a storm of missiles, he passed along by the breakwater through the sea, and brought off most of his men safe, though a few were lost. [2] Meanwhile the auxiliaries of the Potidaeans from Olynthus, which is about seven miles off, and in sight of Potidaea, when the battle began and the signals were raised, advanced a little way to render assistance; and the Macedonian horse formed against them to prevent it. But on victory speedily declaring for the Athenians and the signals being taken down, they retired back within the wall; and the Macedonians returned to the Athenians. Thus there were no cavalry present on either side. [3] After the battle the Athenians set up a trophy, and gave back their dead to the Potidaeans under truce. The Potidaeans and their allies had close upon three hundred killed; the Athenians a hundred and fifty of their own citizens, and Callias their general.

Athenian reinforcements under Phormio complete the investment of Potidaea.

The wall on the side of the isthmus now had works at once raised against it, and manned by the Athenians. That on the side of Pallene had no works raised against it. They did not think themselves strong enough at once to keep a garrison in the isthmus, and to cross over to Pallene and raise works there; they were afraid that the Potidaeans and their allies might take advantage of their division to attack them. [2] Meanwhile the Athenians at home learning that there were no works at Pallene, sometime afterwards sent off sixteen hundred hoplites of their own citizens under the command of Phormio son of Asopius. Arrived at Pallene, he fixed his headquarters at Aphytis, and led his army against Potidaea by short marches, ravaging the country as he advanced. No one venturing to meet him in the field, he raised works against the wall on the side of Pallene. [3] So at length Potidaea was strongly invested on either side, and from the sea by the ships cooperating in the blockade.

The siege of Potidaea commences.

Aristeus, seeing its investment complete, and having no hope of its salvation, except in the event of some movement from the Peloponnesus, or of some other improbable contingency, advised all except five hundred to watch for a wind, and sail out of the place, in order that their provisions might last the longer. He was willing to be himself one of those who remained. Unable to persuade them, and desirous of acting on the next alternative, and of having things outside in the best posture possible, he eluded the guard ships of the Athenians and sailed out. [2] Remaining among the Chalcidians, he continued to carry on the war; in particular he set up an ambush near the city of the Sermylians, and cut off many of them; he also communicated with the Peloponnesus, and tried to contrive some method by which help might be brought. Meanwhile, after the completion of the investment of Potidaea, Phormio next employed his sixteen hundred men in ravaging Chalcidice and Bottica; some of the cities also were taken by him.

Athens and Corinth complain much about Potidaea, yet there is still peace.

The Athenians and Peloponnesians had these antecedent grounds of complaint against each other: the complaint of Corinth was that her colony of Potidaea, and Corinthian and Peloponnesian citizens within it, was being besieged; that of Athens against the Peloponnesians that they had incited one of the cities in their alliance and liable for tribute, to revolt, and that they had come and were openly fighting against her on the side of the Potidaeans. For all this, war had not yet broken out: there was still truce for a while; for this was a private enterprise on the part of Corinth.

Many cities denounce Athens to the allies assembled at Sparta. The Corinthians speak last.

But the siege of Potidaea put an end to her inaction; she had men inside it: besides, she feared for the place. Immediately summoning the allies to Sparta, she came and loudly accused Athens of breach of the treaty and aggression on the rights of the Peloponnesus. [2] With her, the Aeginetans, formally unrepresented from fear of Athens, in secret proved not the least urgent of the advocates for war, asserting that they had not the independence guaranteed to them by the treaty. [3] After extending the summons to any of their allies and others who might have complaints to make of Athenian aggression, the Spartans held their ordinary assembly, and invited them to speak. [4] There were many who came forward and made their several accusations; among them the Megarians, in a long list of grievances, called special attention to the fact of their exclusion from the ports of the Athenian empire and the market of Athens, in defiance of the treaty. [5] Last of all the Corinthians came forward, and having let those who preceded them inflame the Spartans, now followed with a speech to this effect:

The Corinthians complain of Athenian aggression against them at Corcyra and Potidaea, and also of Spartan inaction, which both injures Sparta’s allies and strengthens Sparta’s rival.

“Spartans! the confidence which you feel in your constitution and social order inclines you to receive any reflections of ours on other powers with a certain skepticism. Hence springs your moderation, but hence also the rather limited knowledge which you betray in dealing with foreign politics. [2] Time after time was our voice raised to warn you of the blows about to be dealt us by Athens, and time after time, instead of taking the trouble to ascertain the worth of our warnings, you contented yourselves with suspecting the speakers of being inspired by private interest. And so, instead of calling these allies together before the blow fell, you have delayed to do so till we are smarting under it; and of the allies it is not unfitting that we make this speech for we have very great complaints of highhanded treatment by the Athenians and of neglect by you. [3] Now if these assaults on the rights of Hellas had been made in the dark you might be unacquainted with the facts, and it would be our duty to enlighten you. As it is, long speeches are not needed where you see servitude accomplished for some of us, meditated for others—in particular for our allies—and prolonged preparations by the aggressor for the hour of war. [4] Or what, pray, is the meaning of their reception of Corcyra by fraud, and their holding it against us by force? What of the siege of Potidaea?—places one of which lies most conveniently for any action against the Thracian cities; while the other would have contributed a very large navy to the Peloponnesians?”

The Corinthians assert that Spartan inaction has permitted Athens to grow at the expense of the Hellenes, and that Athens’ perception of Sparta’s acquiescence encourages her to commit further aggression. Once the Spartans could have stopped her easily, but Athens has now become such a formidable adversary that Hellenic confidence in Sparta is shaken.

“For all this you are responsible. You it was who first allowed them to fortify their city after the Persian war, and afterwards to erect the long walls—you who, then and now, are always depriving of freedom not only those whom they have enslaved, but also those who have as yet been your allies. For the true author of the subjugation of a people is not so much the immediate agent, as the power which permits it having the means to prevent it; particularly if that power aspires to the glory of being the liberator of Hellas. We are at last assembled. [2] It has not been easy to assemble, nor even now are our objects defined. We ought not to be still inquiring into the facts of our wrongs, but into the means for our defense. For the aggressors with matured plans to oppose to our indecision have cast threats aside and betaken themselves to action. [3] And we know what are the paths by which Athenian aggression travels, and how insidious is its progress. A degree of confidence she may feel from the idea that your bluntness of perception prevents your noticing her; but it is nothing to the impulse which her advance will receive from the knowledge that you see, but do not care to interfere. [4] You, Spartans, of all the Hellenes are alone inactive, and defend yourselves not by doing anything but by looking as if you would do something; you alone wait till the power of an enemy is becoming twice its original size, instead of crushing it in its infancy. [5] And yet the world used to say that you were to be depended upon; but in your case, we fear, it said more than the truth. The Mede, we ourselves know, had time to come from the ends of the earth to the Peloponnesus, without any force of yours worthy of the name advancing to meet him. But this was a distant enemy. Well, Athens at all events is a near neighbor, and yet Athens you utterly disregard; against Athens you prefer to act on the defensive instead of on the offensive, and to make it an affair of chances by deferring the struggle till she has grown far stronger than at first. And yet you know that on the whole the rock on which the barbarian was wrecked was himself, and that if our present enemy Athens has not again and again annihilated us, we owe it more to her blunders than to your protection. [6] Indeed, expectations from you have before now been the ruin of some, whose faith induced them to omit preparation.”

“We hope that none of you will consider these words of remonstrance to be rather words of hostility; men remonstrate with friends who are in error, accusations they reserve for enemies who have wronged them.”

The Corinthians characterize the Athenians and the Spartans as opposites: where the Athenians are active, innovative, daring, quick, enterprising, acquisitive, and opportunistic, the Spartans are passive, cautious, conservative, timid, and slow. The Athenians take no rest and allow none to others.

“Besides, we consider that we have as good a right as anyone to point out a neighbor’s faults, particularly when we contemplate the great contrast between the two national characters; a contrast of which, as far as we can see, you have little perception, having never yet considered what sort of antagonists you will encounter in the Athenians, how widely, how absolutely different from yourselves. [2] The Athenians are addicted to innovation, and their designs are characterized by swiftness alike in conception and execution; you have a genius for keeping what you have got, accompanied by a total want of invention, and when forced to act you never go far enough. [3] Again, they are adventurous beyond their power, and daring beyond their judgment, and in danger they are sanguine; your wont is to attempt less than is justified by your power, to mistrust even what is sanctioned by your judgment, and to fancy that from danger there is no release. [4] Further, there is promptitude on their side against procrastination on yours; they are never at home, you are most disinclined to leave it, for they hope by their absence to extend their acquisitions, you fear by your advance to endanger what you have left behind. [5] They are swift to follow up a success, and slow to recoil from a reverse. [6] Their bodies they spend ungrudgingly in their country’s cause; their intellect they jealously husband to be employed in her service. [7] A scheme unexecuted is with them a positive loss, a successful enterprise a comparative failure. The deficiency created by the miscarriage of an undertaking is soon filled up by fresh hopes; for they alone are enabled to call a thing hoped for a thing got, by the speed with which they act upon their resolutions. [8] Thus they toil on in trouble and danger all the days of their life, with little opportunity for enjoying, being ever engaged in getting: their only idea of a holiday is to do what the occasion demands, and to them laborious occupation is less of a misfortune than the peace of a quiet life. [9] To describe their character in a word, one might truly say that they were born into the world to take no rest themselves and to give none to others.”

The Corinthians conclude by blaming Sparta’s old-fashioned ways for her failure to perceive the effectiveness of Athenian innovation. They beg Sparta “to assist Potidaea now as she had promised.” They threaten to seek another alliance if the Spartans continue to fail them.

“Such is Athens, your antagonis And yet, Spartans, you still delay, and fail to see that peace stays longest with those who are not more careful to use their power justly than to show their determination not to submit to injustice. On the contrary, your ideal of fair dealing is based on the principle that if you do not injure others, you need not risk your own fortunes in preventing others from injuring you. [2] Now you could scarcely have succeeded in such a policy even with a neighbor like yourselves; but in the present instance, as we have just shown, your habits are old-fashioned as compared with theirs. [3] It is the law, as in the arts so in politics, that improvements ever prevail; and though fixed usages may be best for undisturbed communities, constant necessities of action must be accompanied by the constant improvement of methods. Thus it happens that the vast experience of Athens has carried her further than you on the path of innovation.”

[4] “Here, at least, let your procrastination end. For the present, assist your allies and Potidaea in particular, as you promised, by a speedy invasion of Attica, and do not sacrifice friends and kindred to their bitterest enemies, and drive the rest of us in despair to some other alliance. [5] Such a step would not be condemned either by the gods who received our oaths, or by the men who witnessed them. The blame for a breach of a treaty cannot be laid on the people whom desertion compels to seek new relations, but on the power that fails to assist its confederate. [6] But if only you will act, we will stand by you; it would be unnatural for us to change, and never should we meet with such a congenial ally. [7] For these reasons choose the right course, and endeavor not to let the Peloponnesus under your supremacy degenerate from the prestige that it enjoyed under that of your ancestors.”

Some Athenian envoys at Sparta ask for permission to address the assembly; it is granted.

Such were the words of the Corinthians. There happened to be Athenian envoys present at Sparta on other business. On hearing the speeches they thought themselves called upon to come before the Spartans. Their intention was not to offer a defense on any of the charges which the cities brought against them, but to show on a comprehensive view that it was not a matter to be hastily decided on, but one that demanded further consideration. There was also a wish to call attention to the great power of Athens, and to refresh the memory of the old and enlighten the ignorance of the young, from a notion that their words might have the effect of inducing them to prefer tranquillity to war. [2] So they came to the Spartans and said that they too, if there was no objection, wished to speak to their assembly. They replied by inviting them to come forward. The Athenians advanced, and spoke as follows:

The Athenians hope to show that their country merits consideration for its achievements, particularly in the Persian wars in which all Hellenes benefited from extraordinary and courageous Athenian efforts.

“The object of our mission here was not to argue with your allies, but to attend to the matters on which our state despatched us. However, the vehemence of the outcry that we hear against us has prevailed on us to come forward. It is not to combat the accusations of the cities (indeed you are not the judges before whom either we or they can plead), but to prevent your taking the wrong course on matters of great importance by yielding too readily to the persuasions of your allies. We also wish to show on a review of the whole indictment that we have a fair title to our possessions, and that our country has claims to consideration. [2] We need not refer to remote antiquity: there we could appeal to the voice of tradition, but not to the experience of our audience. But to the Persian wars and contemporary history we must refer, although we are rather tired of continually bringing this subject forward. In our action during that war we ran great risk to obtain certain advantages: you had your share in the solid results, do not try to rob us of all share in the good that the glory may do us. [3] However, the story shall be told not so much to seek to be spared hostility as to testify against it, and to show, if you are so ill-advised as to enter into a struggle with Athens, what sort of an antagonist she is likely to prove. [4] We assert that at Marathon we were in the forefront of danger and faced the barbarian by ourselves. That when he came the second time, unable to cope with him by land we went on board our ships with all our people, and joined in the action at Salamis. This prevented his taking the Peloponnesians city by city, and ravaging them with his fleet; when the multitude of his vessels would have made any combination for self-defense impossible. [5] The best proof of this was furnished by the invader himself. Defeated at sea, he considered his power to be no longer what it had been, and retired as speedily as possible with the greater part of his army.”

The Athenians claim to have provided the most powerful and essential contributions to the Hellenic success at Salamis, which proved to be the decisive blow to the Persian advance. They remind the Spartans that they courageously abandoned their homes and fought on even before the Peloponnesians arrived to help.

“Such, then, was the result of the matter, and it was clearly proved that it was on the fleet of Hellas that her cause depended. Well, to this result we contributed three very useful elements, namely, the largest number of ships, the ablest commander, and the most unhesitating patriotism. Our contingent of ships was little less than two-thirds of the whole four hundred; the commander was Themistocles, through whom chiefly it was that the battle took place in the straits, the acknowledged salvation of our cause. Indeed, this was the reason for your receiving him with honors such as had never been accorded to any foreign visitor. [2] While for daring patriotism we had no competitors. Receiving no reinforcements from behind, seeing everything in front of us already subjugated, we had the spirit, after abandoning our city, after sacrificing our property (instead of deserting the remainder of the league or depriving them of our services by dispersing), to throw ourselves into our ships and meet the danger, without a thought of resenting your having neglected to assist us. [3] We assert, therefore, that we conferred on you quite as much as we received. For you had a stake to fight for; the cities which you had left were still filled with your homes, and you had the prospect of enjoying them again; and your coming was prompted quite as much by fear for yourselves as for us; at all events, you never appeared till we had nothing left to lose. But we left behind us a city that was a city no longer, and staked our lives for a city that had an existence only in desperate hope, and so bore our full share in your deliverance and in ours. [4] But if we had copied others, and allowed fears for our territory to make us go over to the Mede before you came, or if we had allowed our ruin to break our spirit and prevent us embarking in our ships, your naval inferiority would have made a sea fight unnecessary, and his objects would have been peaceably attained.”

The Athenians claim that Athens acquired her empire peacefully, honorably, and by the default of Sparta; now it cannot be given up without risk. No state can be faulted for pursuing its own interest.

“Surely, Spartans, neither by the patriotism that we displayed at that crisis, nor by the wisdom of our counsels, do we merit our extreme unpopularity with the Hellenes, not at least unpopularity for our empire. [2] That empire we acquired not by violence, but because you were unwilling to prosecute to its conclusion the war against the barbarian, and because the allies attached themselves to us and spontaneously asked us to assume the command. [3] And the nature of the case first compelled us to advance our empire to its present height; fear being our principal motive, though honor and interest afterwards came in. [4] And at last, when almost all hated us, when some had already revolted and had been subdued, when you had ceased to be the friends that you once were, and had become objects of suspicion and dislike, it appeared no longer safe to give up our empire; especially as all who left us would fall to you. [5] And no one can quarrel with a people for making, in matters of tremendous risk, the best provision that it can for its interest.”

The Athenians argue that Athens acted normally within the common practices of mankind to maintain her empire; fear, honor, and interest motivate her as they would any others in her place. Indeed, she deserves praise for acting with greater justice and moderation than her power would require.

“You, at all events, Spartans, have used your supremacy to settle the states in the Peloponnesus as is agreeable to you. And if at the period of which we were speaking you had persevered to the end of the matter, and had incurred hatred in your command, we are sure that you would have made yourselves just as galling to the allies, and would have been forced to choose between a strong government and danger to yourselves. [2] It follows that it was not a very remarkable action, or contrary to the common practice of mankind, if we did accept an empire that was offered to us, and refused to give it up under the pressure of three of the strongest motives, fear, honor, and interest. And it was not we who set the example, for it has always been the law that the weaker should be subject to the stronger. Besides, we believed ourselves to be worthy of our position, and so you thought us till now, when calculations of interest have made you take up the cry of justice—a consideration which no one ever yet brought forward to hinder his ambition when he had a chance of gaining anything by might. [3] And praise is due to all who, if not so superior to human nature as to refuse dominion, yet respect justice more than their position compels them to do.”

[4] “We imagine that our moderation would be best demonstrated by the conduct of who should be placed in our position; but even our equity has very unreasonably subjected us to condemnation instead of approval.”

The Athenians speculate that Sparta would be equally hated were she to take Athens’ place, and perhaps more so, because her peculiar institutions render her people unfit to rule other Hellenes.

“Our abatement of our rights in the contract trials with our allies, and our causing them to be decided by impartial laws at Athens, have gained us the character of being litigious. [2] And none care to inquire why this reproach is not brought against other imperial powers, who treat their subjects with less moderation than we do; the secret being that where force can be used, law is not needed. [3] But our subjects are so habituated to associate with us as equals, that any defeat whatever that clashes with their notions of justice, whether it proceeds from a legal judgment or from the power which our empire gives us, makes them forget to be grateful for being allowed to retain most of their possessions, and more vexed at a part being taken, than if we had from the first cast law aside and openly gratified our covetousness. If we had done so, they would not have disputed that the weaker must give way to the stronger. [4] Men’s indignation, it seems, is more excited by legal wrong than by violent wrong; the first looks like being cheated by an equal, the second like being compelled by a superior. [5] At all events they contrived to put up with much worse treatment than this from the Persians, yet they think our rule severe, and this is to be expected, for the present always weighs heavy on the conquered. This at least is certain. [6] If you were to succeed in overthrowing us and in taking our place, you would speedily lose the popularity with which fear of us has invested you, if your policy now were to be at all like the sample you gave during the brief period of your command against the Mede. Not only is your life at home regulated by rules and institutions incompatible with those of others, but your citizens abroad act neither on these rules nor on those which are recognized by the rest of Hellas.”

In conclusion, the Athenians advise the Spartans to decide carefully, reminding them of the chances of war and noting that the treaty calls for disputes to be submitted to arbitration.

“Take time then in forming your resolution, as the matter is of great importance; and do not be persuaded by the opinions and complaints of others and so bring trouble on yourselves, but consider the vast influence of accident in war, before you are engaged in it. [2] As it continues, it generally becomes an affair of chances, chances from which neither of us is exempt, and whose event we must risk in the dark. [3] It is a common mistake in going to war to begin at the wrong end, to act first, and wait for disaster to discuss the matter. [4] But we are not yet by any means so misguided, nor, so far as we can see, are you; accordingly, while it is still open to us both to choose aright, we bid you not to dissolve the treaty, or to break your oaths, but to have our differences settled by arbitration according to our agreement. Or else we take the gods who heard the oaths to witness, and if you begin hostilities, whatever line of action you choose, we will endeavor to defend ourselves against you.”

The Spartans declare the Athenians to be aggressors.

Such were the words of the Athenians. After the Spartans had heard the complaints of the allies against the Athenians, and the observations of the latter, they made all withdraw, and consulted by themselves on the question before them. [2] The opinions of the majority all led to the same conclusion; the Athenians were open aggressors, and war must be declared at once. But Archidamus, the Spartan king, who had the reputation of being at once a wise and a moderate man, came forward and made the following speech:

The Spartan king, Archidamus, warns the Spartans that Athens is a powerful adversary with many advantages in war. He advises them to prepare carefully for such a struggle and not to act rashly.

“I have not lived so long, Spartans, without having had the experience of many wars, and I see those among you of the same age as myself, who will not fall into the common misfortune of longing for war from inexperience or from a belief in its advantage and its safety. [2] This, the war on which you are now debating, would be one of the greatest magnitude, on a sober consideration of the matter. [3] In a struggle with Peloponnesians and neighbors our strength is of the same character, and it is possible to move swiftly on the different points. But a struggle with a people who live in a distant land, who have also an extraordinary familiarity with the sea, and who are in the highest state of preparation in every other department; with wealth private and public, with ships, and horses, and hoplites, and a population such as no one other Hellenic place can equal, and lastly a large number of tributary allies—what can justify us in rashly beginning such a struggle? Wherein is our trust that we should rush on it unprepared? [4] Is it in our ships? There we are inferior; while if we are to practice and become a match for them, time must intervene. Is it in our money? There we have a far greater deficiency. We neither have it in our treasury, nor are we ready to contribute it from our private funds.”

Archidamus points out that Sparta can only devastate Attica, which will not harm Athens materially. He warns that the war will not be short, and wonders aloud how Sparta can win.

“Confidence might possibly be felt in our superiority in hoplites and population, which will enable us to invade and devastate their lands. [2] But the Athenians have plenty of other land in their empire, and can import what they want by sea. [3] Again, if we are to attempt an insurrection of their allies, these will have to be supported with a fleet, most of them being islanders. [4] What then is to be our war? For unless we can either beat them at sea, or deprive them of the revenues which feed their navy, we shall meet with little but disaster. [5] Meanwhile our honor will be pledged to keeping on, particularly if it be the opinion that we began the quarrel. [6] For let us never be elated by the fatal hope of the war being quickly ended by the devastation of their lands. I fear rather that we may leave it as a legacy to our children; so improbable is it that the Athenian spirit will be the slave of their land, or Athenian experience be cowed by war.”

Archidamus advises Sparta to continue discussions with Athens and to use the time thus gained to gather allies and to develop its resources for war. Such preparations might induce the Athenians to submit, but if not, Sparta will enter the war much strengthened.

“Not that I would bid you be so unfeeling as to suffer them to injure your allies, and to refrain from unmasking their intrigues; but I do bid you not to take up arms at once, but to send and remonstrate with them in a tone not too suggestive of war, nor again too suggestive of submission, and to employ the interval in perfecting our own preparations. The means will be, first, the acquisition of allies, Hellenic or barbarian it matters not, so long as they are an accession to our strength naval or financial—I say Hellenic or barbarian, because the odium of such an accession to all who like us are the objects of the designs of the Athenians is taken away by the law of self-preservation—and secondly the development of our home resources. [2] If they listen to our embassy, so much the better; but if not, after the lapse of two or three years our position will have become materially strengthened, and we can then attack them if we think proper. [3] Perhaps by that time the sight of our preparations, backed by language equally significant, will have disposed them to submission, while their land is still untouched, and while their counsels may be directed to the retention of advantages as yet undestroyed. [4] For the only light in which you can view their land is that of a hostage in your hands, a hostage the more valuable the better it is cultivated. This you ought to spare as long as possible, and not make them desperate, and so increase the difficulty of dealing with them. [5] For if while still unprepared, hurried on by the complaints of our allies, we are induced to lay it waste, have a care that we do not bring deep disgrace and deep perplexity upon the Peloponnesus. [6] Complaints, whether of communities or individuals, it is possible to adjust; but war undertaken by a coalition for sectional interests, whose progress there is no means of foreseeing, may not be easily or creditably settled.”

Archidamus asserts that Sparta must accumulate money for a war with Athens.

“And none need think it cowardice for a large number of confederates to pause before they attack a single city. [2] The Athenians have allies as numerous as our own, and allies that pay tribute, and war is a matter not so much of arms as of money, which makes arms of use. And this is more than ever true in a struggle between a continental and a maritime power. [3] First, then, let us provide money, and not allow ourselves to be carried away by the talk of our allies before we have done so: as we shall have the largest share of responsibility for the consequences be they good or bad, we have also a right to a tranquil inquiry respecting them.”

Archidamus tells Sparta to ignore her allies’ impatient calls for action and to move slowly and moderately. He praises Spartan character, a product of practical, limited education, and adds that Sparta traditionally assumes that her adversaries will plan wisely and not blunder.

“And the slowness and procrastination, the parts of our character that are most assailed by their criticism, need not make you blush. If we undertake the war without preparation, we should by hastening its commencement only delay its conclusion: further, a free and a famous city has through all time been ours. [2] The quality which they condemn is really nothing but a wise moderation; thanks to its possession, we alone do not become insolent in success and give way less than others in misfortune; we are not carried away by the pleasure of hearing ourselves cheered on to risks which our judgment condemns; nor, if annoyed, are we any the more convinced by attempts to exasperate us by accusation. [3] We are both warlike and wise, and it is our sense of order that makes us so. We are warlike, because self-control contains honor as a chief constituent, and honor bravery. And we are wise, because we are educated with too little learning to despise the laws, and with too severe a self-control to disobey them, and are brought up not to be too knowing in useless matters—such as the knowledge which can give a specious criticism of an enemy’s plans in theory, but fails to assail them with equal success in practice—but are taught to consider that the schemes of our enemies are not dissimilar to our own, and that the freaks of chance are not determinable by calculation. [4] In practice we always base our preparations against an enemy on the assumption that his plans are good; indeed, it is right to rest our hopes not on a belief in his blunders, but on the soundness of our provisions. Nor ought we to believe that there is much difference between man and man, but to think that the superiority lies with him who is reared in the severest school.”

Archidamus concludes that the Spartans must decide calmly. He reminds them that Athens offers arbitration, but asks them to continue to prepare for war.

“These practices, then, which our ancestors have delivered to us, and by whose maintenance we have always profited, must not be given up. And we must not be hurried into deciding in a day’s brief space a question which concerns many lives and fortunes and many cities, and in which honor is deeply involved—but we must decide calmly. This our strength peculiarly enables us to do. [2] As for the Athenians, send to them on the matter of Potidaea, send on the matter of the alleged wrongs of the allies, particularly as they are prepared to submit matters to arbitration, for one should not proceed against a party who offers arbitration as one would against a wrongdoer. Meanwhile do not omit preparation for war. This decision will be the best for yourselves and the most terrible to your opponents.”

[3] Such were the words of Archidamus. Last came forward Sthenelaidas, one of the ephors for that year, and spoke to the Spartans as follows:

The Spartan ephor Sthenelaidas demands a declaration of war against Athens.

“The long speech of the Athenians I do not pretend to understand. They said a good deal in praise of themselves, but nowhere denied that they are injuring our allies and the Peloponnesus. And yet if they behaved well against the Persians in the past, but ill toward us now, they deserve double punishment for having ceased to be good and for having become bad. [2] We meanwhile are the same then and now, and shall not, if we are wise, disregard the wrongs of our allies, or put off till tomorrow the duty of assisting those who must suffer today. [3] Others have much money and ships and horses, but we have good allies whom we must not give up to the Athenians, nor by lawsuits and words decide the matter, as it is anything but in word that we are harmed, but render instant and powerful help. [4] And let us not be told that it is fitting for us to deliberate under injustice; long deliberation is rather fitting for those who have injustice in contemplation. [5] Vote therefore, Spartans, for war, as the honor of Sparta demands, and neither allow the further aggrandizement of Athens, nor betray our allies to ruin, but with the gods let us advance against the aggressors.”

The Spartans vote by acclamation to declare war and to convene a decisive meeting of all their allies.

With these words he, as ephor, himself put the question to the assembly of the Spartans. [2] He said that he could not determine which was the loudest acclamation (their mode of decision is by acclamation, not by voting); the fact being that he wished to make them declare their opinion openly and thus to increase their ardor for war. Accordingly he said, “All Spartans who are of opinion that the treaty has been broken, and that Athens is guilty, leave your seats and go there,” pointing out a certain place; “all who are of the opposite opinion, there.” [3] They accordingly stood up and divided; and those who held that the treaty had been broken were in a decided majority. [4] Summoning the allies, they told them that their opinion was that Athens had been guilty of injustice, but that they wished to convoke all the allies and put it to the vote; in order that they might make war, if they decided to do so, on a common resolution. [5] Having thus gained their point, the delegates returned home at once; the Athenian envoys a little later, when they had dispatched the objects of their mission. [6] This decision of the assembly judging that the treaty had been broken, was made in the fourteenth year of the Thirty Years’ Peace, which was entered into after the affair of Euboea.

Fearing Athen’s growing power, Sparta votes for war.

The Spartans voted that the treaty had been broken, and that war must be declared, not so much because they were persuaded by the arguments of the allies, as because they feared the growth of the power of the Athenians, seeing most of Hellas already subject to them.

Thucydides tells how Athens grew powerful after Persia’s defeat.

The way in which Athens came to be placed in the circumstances under which her power grew was this. [2] After the Persians had returned from Europe, defeated by sea and land by the Hellenes, and after those of them who had fled with their ships to Mycale had been destroyed, Leotychides, king of the Spartans, the commander of the Hellenes at Mycale, departed home with the allies from the Peloponnesus. But the Athenians and the allies from Ionia and Hellespont, who had now revolted from the King, remained and laid siege to Sestos, which was still held by the Persians. After wintering before it, they became masters of the place on its evacuation by the barbarians; and after this they sailed away from Hellespont to their respective cities. [3] Meanwhile the Athenian people, after the departure of the barbarian from their country, at once proceeded to bring over their children and wives, and such property as they had left, from the places where they had deposited them, and prepared to rebuild their city and their walls. For only isolated portions of the circumference had been left standing, and most of the houses were in ruins; though a few remained, in which the Persian grandees had taken up their quarters.

Sparta asks Athens not to rebuild its city wall. Themistocles goes to Sparta to discuss the matter and to delay a Spartan response while the Athenians hastily build a new city wall.

Perceiving what they were going to do, the Spartans sent an embassy to Athens. They would have themselves preferred to see neither her nor any other city in possession of a wall; though here they acted principally at the instigation of their allies, who were alarmed at the strength of her newly acquired navy, and the valor which she had displayed in the war with the Persians. [2] They begged her not only to abstain from building walls for herself, but also to join them in throwing down the remaining walls of the cities outside the Peloponnesus. They did not express openly the suspicious intention with regard to the Athenians that lay behind this proposal but urged that by these means the barbarians, in the case of a third invasion, would not have any strong place, such as in this invasion he had in Thebes, for his base of operation; and that the Peloponnesus would suffice for all as a base both for retreat and offense. [3] After the Spartans had thus spoken, they were, on the advice of Themistocles, immediately dismissed by the Athenians, with the answer that ambassadors should be sent to Sparta to discuss the question. Themistocles told the Athenians to send him off with all speed to Lacedaemon, but not to despatch his colleagues as soon as they had selected them, but to wait until they had raised their wall to the height from which defense was possible. Meanwhile the whole population in the city was to labor at the wall, the Athenians, their wives, and their children, sparing no edifice, private or public, which might be of any use to the work, but throwing all down. [4] After giving these instructions, and adding that he would be responsible for all other matters there, he departed. [5] Arrived at Sparta he did not seek an audience with the magistrates, but tried to gain time and made excuses. When any of the authorities asked him why he did not appear in the assembly, he would say that he was waiting for his colleagues, who had been detained in Athens by some engagement; however, that he expected their speedy arrival, and wondered that they were yet there.

Themistocles’ stratagem succeeds. After the wall is completed, Themistocles tells Sparta that Athens will look after her own interests.



At first the Spartans trusted the words of Themistocles, through their friendship for him; but when others arrived, all distinctly declaring that the work was going on and already attaining some elevation, they could not fail to believe them. [2] Aware of this, he told them that rumors are deceptive, and should not be trusted; they should send some reputable persons from Sparta to inspect, whose report might be trusted. [3] They despatched them accordingly. Concerning these Themistocles secretly sent word to the Athenians to detain them as far as possible without putting them under open constraint, and not to let them go until they had themselves returned. For his colleagues had now joined him, Abronichus son of Lysicles, and Aristides son of Lysimachus, with the news that the wall was sufficiently advanced; and he feared that when the Spartans heard the facts, they might refuse to let them go. [4] So the Athenians detained the envoys according to his message, and Themistocles had an audience with the Spartans and at last openly told them that Athens was now fortified sufficiently to protect its inhabitants; that any embassy which the Spartans or their allies might wish to send to them should in future proceed on the assumption that the people to whom they were going was able to distinguish both its own and the general interests; [5] that when the Athenians thought fit to abandon their city and to embark in their ships, they ventured on that perilous step without consulting them, and that on the other hand, wherever they had deliberated with the Spartans, they had proved themselves to be in judgment second to none; [6] and that they now thought it fit that their city should have a wall, and that this would be more for the advantage of both the citizens of Athens and the Hellenic confederacy, [7] for without equal military strength it was impossible to contribute equal or fair counsel to the common interest. It followed, he observed, either that all the members of the confederacy should be without walls, or that the present step should be considered a right one.

Sparta accepts the Athenian wall with outward grace but secret annoyance.

The Spartans did not betray any open signs of anger against the Athenians at what they heard. The embassy, it seems, was prompted not by a desire to obstruct, but to guide the counsels of their government: besides, Spartan feeling was at that time very friendly toward Athens on account of the patriotism which she had displayed in the struggle with the Mede. Still the defeat of their wishes could not but cause them secret annoyance. The envoys of each state departed home without complaint.

Themistocles fortifies the Piraeus, foreseeing that Athens would grow great through naval power.

In this way the Athenians walled their city in a short space of time. [2] To this day the building shows signs of the haste of its execution; the foundations are laid of stones of all kinds, and in some places not wrought or fitted, but placed just in the order in which they were brought by the different hands; and many columns, too, from tombs and sculptured stones were put in with the rest. For the bounds of the city were extended at every point of the circumference; and so they laid hands on everything without exception in their haste. [3] Themistocles also persuaded them to finish the walls of the Piraeus, which had been begun before, in his year of office as archon; being influenced alike by the fineness of a locality that has three natural harbors, and by the great start which the Athenians would gain in the acquisition of power by becoming a naval people. [4] For he first ventured to tell them to stick to the sea and forthwith began to lay the foundations of the empire. [5] It was by his advice, too, that they built the walls of that thickness which can still be discerned round the Piraeus, the stones being brought up by two wagons meeting each other. Between the walls thus formed there was neither rubble nor mortar, but great stones hewn square and fitted together, cramped to each other on the outside with iron and lead. About half the height that he intended was finished. [6] His idea was by their size and thickness to keep off the attacks of an enemy; he thought that they might be adequately defended by a small garrison of invalids, and the rest be freed for service in the fleet. [7] For the fleet claimed most of his attention. He saw, as I think, that the approach by sea was easier for the King’s army than that by land: he also thought the Piraeus more valuable than the upper city; indeed, he was always advising the Athenians, if a day should come when they were hard pressed by land, to go down into the Piraeus, and defy the world with their fleet. In this way, therefore, the Athenians completed their wall, and commenced their other buildings immediately after the retreat of the Persians.

Pausanias leads a fleet against Cyprus and Byzantium.

Meanwhile Pausanias son of Cleombrotus was sent out from Sparta as commander-in-chief of the Hellenes, with twenty ships from the Peloponnesus. With him sailed the Athenians with thirty ships, and a number of the other allies. [2] They made an expedition against Cyprus and subdued most of the island, and afterwards against Byzantium, which was in the hands of the Persians, and compelled it to surrender. This event took place while the Spartans were still supreme. [1.95.1] But the violence of Pausanias had already begun to be disagreeable to the Hellenes, particularly to the Ionians and the newly liberated populations. These resorted to the Athenians and requested them as their kinsmen to become their leaders, and to stop any attempt at violence on the part of Pausanias. [2] The Athenians accepted their overtures, and determined to put down any attempt of the kind and to settle everything else as their interests might seem to demand. [3] In the meantime the Spartans recalled Pausanias for an investigation of the reports which had reached them. Manifold and grave accusations had been brought against him by Hellenes arriving in Sparta; and, to all appearance, his conduct seemed more like that of a despot than of a general. [4] As it happened, his recall came just at the time when the hatred which he had inspired had induced the allies to desert him, the soldiers from the Peloponnesus excepted, and to range themselves by the side of the Athenians. [5] On his arrival at Lacedaemon, he was censured for his private acts of oppression, but was acquitted on the heaviest counts and pronounced not guilty; it must be known that the charge of Medism formed one of the principal, and to all appearance one of the best-founded, articles against him. [6] The Spartans did not, however, restore him to his command, but sent out Dorkis and certain others with a small force; who found the allies no longer inclined to concede to them the command. [7] Perceiving this they departed, and the Spartans did not send out any to succeed them. They feared for those who went out a deterioration similar to that observable in Pausanias; besides, they desired to be rid of the war against the Persians, and were satisfied of the competency of the Athenians for the position, and of their friendship at the time toward themselves.

Pausanias grows arrogant and unpopular. Spartan leadership at sea is rejected by the allies in favor of Athens. Sparta accepts this decision.

Athens forms a new anti-Persian alliance.

The Athenians having thus succeeded to the supremacy by the voluntary act of the allies through their hatred of Pausanias, determined which cities were to contribute money against the barbarian, and which ships; their professed object being to retaliate for their sufferings by ravaging the King’s country. [2] Now was the time that the office of “Treasurers for Hellas” was first instituted by the Athenians. These officers received the tribute, as the money contributed was called. The tribute was first fixed at four hundred and sixty talents. The common treasury was at Delos, and the congresses were held in the temple.

Thucydides describes the growth of Athenian power, noting that no other historian has covered this topic adequately.

Initially, the Athenians commanded autonomous allies and made their decisions in general congresses. Their supremacy grew during the interval between the present war and the Persian wars, through their military and political actions recounted below against the barbarians, against their own allies in revolt, and against the Peloponnesians whom they encountered on various occasions. [2] My reason for relating these events, and for venturing on this digression, is that this passage of history has been omitted by all my predecessors, who have confined themselves either to Hellenic history before the Persian wars, or to the Persian wars itself. Hellanicus, it is true, did touch on these events in his Athenian history; but he is somewhat concise and not accurate in his dates. Besides, the history of these events contains an explanation of the growth of the Athenian empire.

Athens’ new alliance attacks Eion, Scyros, and Carystus, and defeats a revolt by Naxos.

First, under the command of Cimon son of Miltiades, the Athenians besieged and captured Eion on the Strymon from the Persians, and made slaves of the inhabitants. [2] Next they enslaved Scyros the island in the Aegean, containing a Dolopian population, and colonized it themselves. [3] This was followed by a war against Carystus, in which the rest of Euboea remained neutral, and which was ended by surrender on conditions. [4] After this Naxos left the confederacy, and a war ensued, and she had to return after a siege; this was the first instance of the confederation being forced to subjugate an allied city, a precedent which was followed by that of the rest in the order which circumstances prescribed.

Athens grows less popular as it strictly requires military and monetary contributions to the alliance.

Of all the causes of defection, that connected with arrears of tribute and vessels, and with failure of service, was the chief; for the Athenians were very severe and exacting, and made themselves offensive by applying the screw of necessity to men who were not used to and in fact not disposed for any continuous labor. [2] In some other respects the Athenians were not the old popular rulers they had been at first; and if they had more than their fair share of service, it was correspondingly easy for them to reduce any that tried to leave the confederacy. [3] For this the allies had themselves to blame; the wish to get off service making most of them arrange to pay their share of the expense in money instead of in ships, and so to avoid having to leave their homes. Thus while Athens was increasing her navy with the funds which they contributed, a revolt always found them without resources or experience for war.



The Persians are defeated on the Eurymedon River.

Thasos revolts. The Athenians are defeated at Amphipolis.

Next we come to the actions by land and by sea at the river Eurymedon, between the Athenians with their allies, and the Persians, when the Athenians won both battles on the same day under the leadership of Cimon son of Miltiades, and captured and destroyed the whole Phoenician fleet, consisting of two hundred vessels. [2] Some time afterwards occurred the defection of the Thasians, caused by disagreements about the markets on the opposite coast of Thrace, and about the mine in their possession. Sailing with a fleet to Thasos, the Athenians defeated them at sea and effected a landing on the island. [3] About the same time they sent ten thousand settlers of their own citizens and the allies to settle the place then called Ennea Hodoi (or Nine Ways), now Amphipolis. They succeeded in gaining possession of Ennea Hodoi from the Edonians, but on advancing into the interior of Thrace were cut off in Drabescus, a city of the Edonians, by the assembled Thracians, who regarded the settlement of the place Ennea Hodoi as an act of hostility.

Promised Spartan aid to Thasos is prevented by earthquake and Helot revolt. Thasos surrenders on terms.

Meanwhile the Thasians being defeated in the field and suffering siege, appealed to Sparta, and desired her to assist them by an invasion of Attica. [2] Unknown to the Athenians, she promised and intended to do so, but was prevented by the occurrence of the earthquake, accompanied by the secession of the Helots and the Thuriats and Aethaeans2c of the perioikoi to Ithome. Most of the Helots were the descendants of the old Messenians that were enslaved in the famous war; and so all of them came to be called Messenians. [3] The Spartans thus being engaged in a war with the rebels in Ithome, the Thasians in the third year of the siege obtained terms from the Athenians by razing their walls, delivering up their ships, and arranging to pay the moneys demanded at once, and tribute in future; giving up their possessions on the mainland together with the mine.

Athens sends troops to help the Spartans fight the Helots. When they are rudely dismissed, Athens renounces her alliance with Sparta.

The Spartans meanwhile finding the war against the rebels in Ithome was likely to be a long one, invoked the aid of their allies, and especially of the Athenians, who came in some force under the command of Cimon. [2] The reason for this pressing summons lay in their reputed skill in siege operations; a long siege had taught the Spartans their own deficiency in this art, else they would have taken the place by assault. [3] The first open quarrel between the Spartans and Athenians arose out of this expedition. The Spartans, when an assault failed to take the place, apprehensive of the enterprising and revolutionary character of the Athenians, and further looking upon them as of alien extraction, began to fear that if they remained, they might be persuaded by the besieged in Ithome to attempt some political changes. They accordingly dismissed them alone of the allies, without declaring their suspicions, but merely saying that they had now no need of them. [4] But the Athenians, aware that their dismissal did not proceed from the more honorable reason of the two, but from suspicions which had been conceived, went away deeply offended, and conscious of having done nothing to merit such treatment from the Spartans; and the instant that they returned home they broke off the alliance which had been made against the Mede, and allied themselves with Sparta’s enemy Argos; each of the contracting parties taking the same oaths and making the same alliance with the Thessalians.

Given permission to leave Laconia, the Helots surrender and are settled in Naupactus by the Athenians.

A dispute with Corinth leads Megara to ally herself with Athens.

Meanwhile the rebels in Ithome, unable to prolong further a ten years’ resistance, surrendered to Sparta; the conditions being that they should depart from the Peloponnesus under safe conduct, and should never set foot in it again: [2] anyone who might hereafter be found there was to be the slave of his captor. It must be known that the Spartans had an old oracle from Delphi, to the effect that they should let go the suppliant of Zeus at Ithome. [3] So they went forth with their children and their wives, and being received by Athens because of the hatred that she now felt for the Spartans, were located at Naupactus, which she had lately taken from the Ozolian Locrians. [4] The Athenians received another addition to their confederacy in the Megarians; who left the Spartan alliance, annoyed by a war about boundaries forced on them by Corinth. The Athenians occupied Megara and Pegae, and built for the Megarians their long walls from the city to Nisaea, in which they placed an Athenian garrison. This was the principal cause of the Corinthians conceiving such a deadly hatred against Athens.

An Athenian fleet sails to Egypt to assist a revolt there against the Persians.

Meanwhile Inaros son of Psammetichus, a Libyan king of the Libyans on the Egyptian border, having his headquarters at Marea, the city above Pharos, caused a revolt of almost the whole of Egypt from King Artaxerxes, and placing himself at its head, invited the Athenians to his assistance. [2] Abandoning a Cyprian expedition upon which they happened to be engaged with two hundred ships of their own and their allies, the Athenians arrived in Egypt and sailed from the sea into the Nile, made themselves masters of the river and two-thirds of Memphis, and addressed themselves to the attack of the remaining third, which is called White Castle. Within it were Persians and Medes who had taken refuge there, and Egyptians who had not joined the rebellion.

An Athenian attack on Halieis is repelled, but the Peloponnesian fleet is defeated off Cecryphalia.

Athens defeats the Aeginetans at sea and besieges their city.

A Corinthian attack on Megara is stopped by a reserve Athenian army.

At this time, other Athenians, making a descent from their fleet upon Halieis, were engaged by a force of Corinthians and Epidaurians; and the Corinthians were victorious. Afterwards the Athenians engaged the Peloponnesian fleet off Cecryphalia; and the Athenians were victorious. [2] Subsequently, war broke out between Aegina and Athens, and there was a great battle at sea off Aegina between the Athenians and Aeginetans, each being aided by their allies; in which victory remained with the Athenians, who took seventy of the enemy’s ships, and landed in the country and commenced a siege under the command of Leocrates son of Stroebus. [3] Upon this the Peloponnesians, desirous of aiding the Aeginetans, threw into Aegina a force of three hundred hoplites, who had before been serving with the Corinthians and Epidaurians. Meanwhile the Corinthians and their allies occupied the heights of Geraneia, and marched down into the Megarid, in the belief that with a large force absent in Aegina and Egypt, Athens would be unable to help the Megarians without raising the siege of Aegina. [4] But the Athenians, instead of moving the army at Aegina, raised a force of the old and young men that had been left in the city, and marched into the Megarid under the command of Myronides. [5] After a drawn battle with the Corinthians, the rival hosts parted, each with the impression that they had gained the victory. [6] The Athenians, however, if anything, had rather the advantage, and on the departure of the Corinthians set up a trophy. Urged by the taunts of the elders in their city, the Corinthians made their preparations, and about twelve days afterwards came and set up their trophy as victors. Sallying out from Megara, the Athenians destroyed the party that was employed in erecting the trophy, and engaged and defeated the rest.

A division of Corinthians is destroyed.

In the retreat of the vanquished army, a considerable division, pressed by the pursuers and mistaking the road, dashed into a field on some private property, with a deep trench all round it and no way out. [2] Being acquainted with the place, the Athenians hemmed their front with hoplites, and placing the light troops round in a circle, stoned all who had gone in! Corinth here suffered a severe blow. The bulk of her army continued its retreat home.

Athens begins work on the Long Walls.

A Spartan army rescues Doris from Phocis but retires to Boeotia when the routes home are blocked.

The Athenian army advances to engage the Peloponnesians; Thessalian cavalry joins them but defects during the battle.

About this time the Athenians began to build the long walls to the sea, that toward Phalerum and that toward the Piraeus. [2] Meanwhile the Phocians made an expedition against Doris, the old home of the Spartans, containing the cities of Boeum, Cytinium, and Erineum. They had taken one of these cities, when the Spartans under Nicomedes son of Cleombrotus, commanding for King Pleistoanax son of Pausanias, who was still a minor, came to the aid of the Dorians with fifteen hundred hoplites of their own, and ten thousand of their allies. After compelling the Phocians to restore the city on conditions, they began their retreat. [3] The route by sea across the Crisaean gulf exposed them to the risk of being stopped by the Athenian fleet; that by land across Geraneia seemed scarcely safe with the Athenians holding Megara and Pegae, for the pass was a difficult one, and was always guarded by the Athenians; and in the present instance, the Spartans had information that they meant to dispute their passage. [4] So they resolved to remain in Boeotia, and to consider which would be the safest line of march. They had also another reason for this resolve. Secret encouragement had been given them by a party in Athens, who hoped to put an end to the reign of democracy and the building of the long walls. [5] Meanwhile the Athenians marched against them with their whole levy and a thousand Argives and the respective contingents of the rest of their allies. Altogether they were fourteen thousand strong. [6] The march was prompted by the notion that the Spartans were at a loss how to effect their passage, and also by suspicions of an attempt to overthrow the democracy [7] Some cavalry also joined the Athenians from their Thessalian allies; but these went over to the Spartans during the battle.



The Spartans defeat the Athenians at Tanagra and go home. Later the Athenians defeat the Boeotians at Oenophyta and become masters of Boeotia.

Aegina surrenders. The Athenians raid the Peloponnesus.

The battle was fought at Tanagra in Boeotia. After heavy loss on both sides victory declared for the Spartans and their allies. [2] After entering the Megarid and cutting down the fruit trees, the Spartans returned home across Geraneia and the isthmus. Sixty-two days after the battle the Athenians marched into Boeotia under the command of Myronides, [3] defeated the Boeotians in battle at Oenophyta, and became masters of Boeotia and Phocis. They dismantled the walls of the Tanagraeans, took a hundred of the richest men of the Opuntian Locrians as hostages, and finished their own long walls. [4] This was followed by the surrender of the Aeginetans to Athens on conditions; they pulled down their walls, gave up their ships, and agreed to pay tribute in future. [5] The Athenians sailed round the Peloponnesus under Tolmides son of Tolmaeus, burnt the arsenal of Sparta, took Chalcis, a city of the Corinthians, and in a descent upon Sicyon5c defeated the Sicyonians in battle.

The Persians defeat the Egyptians and their Athenian allies.

Meanwhile the Athenians in Egypt and their allies stayed on and encountered all the vicissitudes of war. [2] First the Athenians were masters of Egypt, and the King sent Megabazus, a Persian, to Sparta with money to bribe the Peloponnesians to invade Attica and so draw off the Athenians from Egypt. [3] Finding that the matter made no progress, and that the money was only being wasted, he recalled Megabazus with the remainder of the money, and sent Megabyzus son of Zopyrus, a Persian, with a large army to Egypt. [4] Arriving by land he defeated the Egyptians and their allies in a battle, and drove the Hellenes out of Memphis, and at length shut them up in the island of Prosopitis, where he besieged them for a year and six months. At last, draining the canal of its waters, which he diverted into another channel, he left their ships high and dry and joined most of the island to the mainland, and then marched over on foot and captured it.



Most of Athens’ fleet in Egypt is lost. An Athenian relief fleet, unaware of the defeat, is surprised and destroyed.

Thus the enterprise of the Hellenes came to ruin after six years of war. Of all that large host a few traveling through Libya reached Cyrene in safety, but most of them perished. [2] And thus Egypt returned to its subjection to the King, except Amyrtaeus, the king in the marshes, whom they were unable to capture from the extent of the marsh; the marshmen being also the most warlike of the Egyptians. [3] Inaros, the Libyan king, the sole author of the Egyptian revolt, was betrayed, taken, and crucified. [4] Meanwhile a relieving squadron of fifty triremes had sailed from Athens and the rest of the confederacy for Egypt. They put in to shore at the Mendesian mouth of the Nile, in total ignorance of what had occurred. Attacked on the land side by the troops, and from the sea by the Phoenician navy, most of the ships were destroyed; the few remaining being saved by retreat. Such was the end of the great expedition of the Athenians and their allies to Egypt.

Athens attempts to restore Orestes in Thessaly but fails.

Pericles’ fleet defeats the Sicyonians but fails to take Oeniadae.

Meanwhile Orestes son of the Thessalian king Echecratides, being an exile from Thessaly, persuaded the Athenians to restore him. Taking with them the Boeotians and the Phocians their allies, the Athenians marched to Pharsalus1d in Thessaly. They became masters of the country, though only in the immediate vicinity of the camp; beyond which they could not go for fear of the Thessalian cavalry. But they failed to take the city or to attain any of the other objects of their expedition, and returned home with Orestes without having effected anything. [2] Not long after this a thousand of the Athenians embarked in the vessels that were at Pegae (Pegae, it must be remembered, was now theirs), and sailed along the coast to Sicyon under the command of Pericles son of Xanthippus. Landing in Sicyon and defeating the Sicyonians who engaged them, [3] they immediately took with them the Achaeans and sailing across, marched against and laid siege to Oeniadae in Acarnania. Failing however to take it, they returned home.

Sparta and Athens sign a five-year truce.

Athens defeats the Persians at Cyprus; Cimon dies.

Athens and Sparta vie for control of Delphi.

Three years afterwards a truce was made between the Peloponnesians and Athenians for five years. [2] Released from Hellenic war, the Athenians made an expedition to Cyprus with two hundred vessels of their own and their allies, under the command of Cimon. [3] Sixty of these were detached to Egypt at the request of Amyrtaeus, the king in the marshes; the rest laid siege to Citium, from which, however, [4] they were compelled to retire by the death of Cimon and by scarcity of provisions. Sailing off Salamis in Cyprus, they fought with the Phoenicians, Cyprians, and Cilicians by land and sea, and being victorious on both elements departed home, and with them the squadron that had returned from Egypt. [5] After this the Spartans marched out on a sacred war, and becoming masters of the temple at Delphi, placed it in the hands of the Delphians. Immediately after their retreat, the Athenians marched out, became masters of the temple, and placed it in the hands of the Phocians.



Boeotia defeats Athens at Coronea and regains her independence.

Some time after this, a thousand Athenians with allied contingents under the command of Tolmides son of Tolmaeus, marched against Orchomenus,Chaeronea, and some other places in Boeotia that were in the hands of the Boeotian exiles. They took Chaeronea, made slaves of the inhabitants, and leaving a garrison, commenced their return. [2] On their way they were attacked at Coronea by the Boeotian exiles from Orchomenus, with some Locrians and Euboean exiles, and others who were of the same way of thinking. The Athenians were defeated in battle and some were killed, others taken captive. [3] The Athenians evacuated all Boeotia by a treaty providing for the recovery of the men; [4] and the exiled Boeotians returned, and with all the rest regained their independence.

Euboea and Megara revolt. Athens recaptures Euboea but not Megara. A Peloponnesian army invades Attica but turns back.

This was soon afterwards followed by the revolt of Euboea from Athens. Pericles had already crossed over with an army of Athenians to the island, when news was brought to him that Megara had revolted, that the Peloponnesians were on the point of invading Attica, and that the Athenian garrison had been cut off by the Megarians, with the exception of a few who had taken refuge in Nisaea. The Megarians had introduced the Corinthians, Sicyonians, and Epidaurians into the city before they revolted. Meanwhile Pericles brought his army back in all haste from Euboea. [2] After this the Peloponnesians, under the command of King Pleistoanax son of Pausanias, marched into Attica as far as Eleusis and Thria, ravaging the country and without advancing further returned home. [3] The Athenians then crossed over again to Euboea under the command of Pericles, and subdued the whole of the island. While they settled all the rest of the island by means of agreed terms, they expelled the people of Histiaea and occupied their territory themselves.

Athens gives up bases in the Megarid and Peloponnesus to secure the Thirty Years’ Peace.
Samos and Byzantium revolt; Persian troops assist Samos.

Not long after their return trom Euboea, they made a peace treaty with the Spartans and their allies for thirty years, giving up the posts which they occupied in the Peloponnesus, Nisaea, Pegae,1a Troezen,1a and Achaca.1a [2] In the sixth year of the truce, war broke out between the Samians1a and Milesians1a about Priene.1a Worsted in the war, the Milesians came to Athens with loud complaints against the Samians. In this they were joined by certain private persons from Samos itself, who wished to change the constitution by revolution. [3] Accordingly the Athenians sailed to Samos with forty ships and set up a democracy;1a took hostages from the Samians, fifty boys and as many men, lodged them in Lemnos, and after leaving a garrison in the island returned home. [4] Some of the Samians, however, had not remained in the island, but had fled to the continent. Making an agreement with the most powerful of those in the city, and an alliance with Pissuthnes son of Hystaspes, who at that time controlled Sardis for the Persians, they got together a force of seven hundred mercenaries, and under cover of night crossed over to Samos. [5] Their first step was to rise against The People, most of whom they secured, their next to steal their hostages from Lemnos; after which they revolted, gave up the Athenian garrison left with them and its commanders to Pissuthnes, and instantly prepared for an expedition against Miletus. The Byzantians also revolted with them.



The Athenians win a battle off Samos and prepare to engage the Phoenician fleet.

As soon as the Athenians heard the news, they sailed with sixty ships against Samos. Sixteen of these went to Caria1a to look out for the Phoenician fleet, and to Chios and Lesbos carrying round orders for reinforcements, and so never engaged; but forty-four ships under the command of Pericles and nine colleagues gave battle off the island of Tragia to seventy Samian vessels—of which twenty were transports—as they were sailing from Miletus. Victory remained with the Athenians. [2] Reinforced afterwards by forty ships from Athens, and twenty-five Chian and Lesbian vessels, the Athenians landed, and having the superiority by land besieged the city with three walls and also blockaded it from the sea. [3] Meanwhile Pericles took sixty ships from the blockading squadron and departed in haste for Caunus and Caria, intelligence having been brought in of the approach of the Phoenician fleet to the aid of the Samians; indeed Stesagoras and others had left the island with five ships to bring them. [1.117.1] But in the meantime the Samians made a sudden sally, and fell on the camp, which they found unfortified. Destroying the lookout vessels, and engaging and defeating such as were being launched to meet them, they remained masters of their own seas for fourteen days, and carried in and carried out what they pleased. [2] But on the arrival of Pericles, they were once more shut up. Fresh reinforcements afterwards arrived—forty ships from Athens with Thucydides,2a Hagnon, and Phormio; twenty with TIepolemus and Anticles, and thirty vessels from Chios and Lesbos. [3] After a brief attempt at fighting, the Samians, unable to hold out after a nine-month siege, were forced to surrender on terms; they razed their walls, gave hostages, delivered up their ships, and arranged to pay the expenses of the war hv installments. The Byzantians also a creed to he subject as beforeand others had left the island with five ships to bring them. [1.117.1] But in the meantime the Samians made a sudden sally, and fell on the camp, which they found unfortified. Destroying the lookout vessels, and engaging and defeating such as were being launched to meet them, they remained masters of their own seas for fourteen days, and carried in and carried out what they pleased. [2] But on the arrival of Pericles, they were once more shut up. Fresh reinforcements afterwards arrived—forty ships from Athens with Thucydides,2a Hagnon, and Phormio; twenty with TIepolemus and Anticles, and thirty vessels from Chios and Lesbos. [3] After a brief attempt at fighting, the Samians, unable to hold out after a nine-month siege, were forced to surrender on terms; they razed their walls, gave hostages, delivered up their ships, and arranged to pay the expenses of the war hv installments. The Byzantians also a creed to he subject as before.

Samos resists for nine months but finally surrenders to Athens.

Thus in the fifty years after the defeat of Persia, the power of Athens grew until Sparta felt compelled to oppose it. This chapter concludes the Pentecontaetia.

After this, though not many years later, we at length come to what has been already related, the affairs of Corcyra and Potidaea and the events that served as a pretext for the present war. [2] All these actions of the Hellenes against each other and the barbarian occurred in the fifty years’ interval between the retreat of Xerxes and the beginning of the present war. During this interval the Athenians succeeded in placing their empire on a firmer basis, and themselves advanced their own power to a very great height. The Spartans, though fully aware of it, opposed it only for a little while, but remained inactive during most of the period, being of old slow to go to war except under the pressure of necessity, and in the present instance being hampered by wars at home. Finally, the growth of the Athenian power could no longer be ignored as their own confederacy became the object of its encroachments. They then felt that they could endure it no longer, but that the time had come for them to throw themselves heart and soul upon the hostile power, and break it, if they could, by commencing the present war. [3] And though the Spartans had made up their own minds on the fact of the breach of the treaty and the guilt of the Athenians, yet they sent to Delphi and inquired of the god whether it would be well with them if they went to war and, as it is reported, received from him the answer that if they put their whole strength into the war, victory would be theirs, and the promise that he himself would be with them, whether invoked or uninvoked.

The Corinthians speak at a meeting of the Spartans and their allies.

Still they wished to summon their allies again, and to take their vote on the propriety of making war. After the ambassadors from the confederates had arrived and a congress had been convened, they all spoke their minds, most of them denouncing the Athenians and demanding that the war should begin, especially the Corinthians. They had before on their own account canvassed the cities separately to induce them to vote for the war, in the fear that it might come too late to save Potidaea; they were present also on this occasion, and came forward the last, and made the following speech:

Corinth applauds Sparta’s vote for war and urges all states in the Peloponnesian League to recognize their common interests and potential for injury, and to vote for war.

“Fellow allies, we can no longer accuse the Spartans of having failed in their duty: they have not only voted for war themselves, but have assembled us here for that purpose. We say their duty, for supremacy has its duties. Besides equitably administering private interests, leaders are required to show a special care for the common welfare in return for the special honors accorded to them by all in other ways. [2] All of us who have already had dealings with the Athenians require no warning to be on their guard against them. The states more inland and away from the main routes should understand that if they omit to support the coast powers, the result will be to injure the transit of their produce for exportation and the reception in exchange of their imports from the sea; and they must not be careless judges of what is now said, as if it had nothing to do with them, but must expect that the sacrifice of the powers on the coast will one day be followed by the extension of the danger to the interior, and must recognize that their own interests are deeply involved in this discussion. [3] For these reasons they should not hesitate to exchange peace for war. If wise men remain quiet while they are not injured, brave men abandon peace for war when they are injured, returning to an understanding on a favorable opportunity. In fact, they are neither intoxicated by their success in war nor disposed to take an injury for the sake of the delightful tranquillity of peace. [4] Indeed, to falter for the sake of such delights is, if you remain inactive, the quickest way of losing the sweets of repose to which you cling; while to conceive extravagant pretensions from success in war is to forget how hollow is the confidence by which you are elated. [5] For if many ill-conceived plans have succeeded through the still greater lack of judgment of an opponent, many more, apparently well laid, have on the contrary ended in disgrace. The confidence with which we form our schemes is never completely justified in their execution; speculation is carried on in safety, but, when it comes to action, fear causes failure.”

The Corinthians optimistically assert that the Peloponnesians can raise enough money by contributions and by loans from Delphi and Olympia to finance a fleet and to subvert that of Athens; they say that the Peloponnesians with practice will soon equal the Athenians at sea.

“To apply these rules to ourselves, if we are now kindling war it is under the pressure of injury, and with adequate grounds of complaint; and after we have chastised the Athenians we will in season desist. [2] We have many reasons to expect success—first, superiority in numbers and in military experience, and secondly our general and unvarying obedience in the execution of orders. [3] The naval strength which they possess shall be raised by us from our respective present resources, and from the moneys at Olympia and Delphi.3a A loan from these enables us to seduce their foreign sailors by the offer of higher pay. For the power of Athens is more mercenary than national; while ours will not be exposed to the same risk, as its strength lies more in men than in money. [4] A single defeat at sea is in all likelihood their ruin: should they hold out, in that case there will be the more time for us to exercise ourselves in naval matters; and as soon as we have arrived at an equality in science, we need scarcely ask whether we shall be their superiors in courage. For the advantages that we have by nature they cannot acquire by education; while their superiority in science must be removed by our practice. [5] The money required for these objects shall be provided by our contributions: nothing indeed could be more monstrous than the suggestion that, while their allies never tire of contributing for their own servitude, we should refuse to spend for vengeance and self-preservation the treasure which by such refusal we shall forfeit to Athenian rapacity, and see employed for our own ruin.”

“We have also other ways of carrying on the war, such as revolt of their allies, the surest method of depriving them of their revenues, which are the source of their strength, and establishment of fortified positions in their country, and various operations which cannot be foreseen at present. For war of all things proceeds least upon definite rules, but draws principally upon itself for contrivances to meet an emergency; and in such cases the party who faces the struggle and keeps his temper best meets with most security, and he who loses his temper about it with correspondent disaster. [2] Let us also reflect that if it was merely a number of disputes of territory between rival neighbors, it might be borne; but here we have in Athens an enemy that is a match for our whole coalition, and more than a match for any of its members; so that unless as a body and as individual nationalities and individual cities we make a unanimous stand against her, she will easily conquer us divided and city by city. That conquest, terrible as it may sound, would, it must be known, have no other end than slavery pure and simple; [3] a word which the Peloponnesus cannot even hear whispered without disgrace, or without disgrace see so many states abused by one. Meanwhile the opinion would be either that we were justly so used, or that we put up with it from cowardice, and were proving degenerate sons in not even securing for ourselves the freedom which our fathers gave to Hellas; and in allowing the establishment in Hellas of a tyrant state, though in individual states we think it our duty to put down sole rulers. [4] And we do not know how this conduct can be held free from three of the gravest failings, want of sense, of courage, or of vigilance. For we do not suppose that you have taken refuge in that contempt of an enemy which has proved so fatal in so many instances—a feeling which from the numbers that it has ruined has come to be thought not to express contempt but to deserve it.”

The Corinthians add that the Peloponnesians can suborn Athenian allies and establish fortified posts in Attica. They call for unity in the face of Athenian aggression since the alternative is slavery. They assert that the Peloponnesians must prevent Athens from ruling all Hellas as a tyrant state just as they have put down tyrants in individual states.

Olympia, Delphi: Map 1.115. Offerings of silver and gold objects and other valuable material accumulated at major temples and shrines to such a degree that these institutions became unique and tempting repositories of ready capital in ancient Greece. In 2.13.4-5, Pericles lists the vast wealth lying in Athenian temples and shrines that could be called upon—if necessary—to support the war.

“There is, however, no advantage in reflections on the past further than may be of service to the present. For the future we must provide by maintaining what the present gives us and redoubling our efforts; it is hereditary to us to win virtue as the fruit of labor, and you must not change the habit, even though you should have a slight advantage in wealth and resources; for it is not right that what was won in want should be lost in plenty. No, we must boldly advance to the war for many reasons; the god has commanded it and promised to be with us, and the rest of Hellas will all join in the struggle, part from fear, part from interest. [2] You will not be the first to break a treaty which the god, in advising us to go to war, judges to be violated already, but rather to support a treaty that has been outraged: indeed, treaties are broken not by resistance but by aggression.”

The Corinthians claim that the god of Delphi sanctions war, which proves that the treaty has already been violated by Athens.

“Your position, therefore, from whatever quarter you may view it, will amply justify you in going to war; and this step we recommend in the interests of all, bearing in mind that identity of interests is the surest of bonds whether between states or individuals. Delay not, therefore, to assist Potidaea, a Dorian city besieged by Ionians, which is quite a reversal of the order of things; nor to assert the freedom of the rest. [2] It is impossible for us to wait any longer when waiting can only mean immediate disaster for some of us and, if it comes to be known that we have conferred but do not venture to protect ourselves, likely disaster in the near future for the rest. Delay not, fellow allies, but convinced of the necessity of the crisis and the wisdom of this counsel, vote for the war, undeterred by its immediate terrors, but looking beyond to the lasting peace by which it will be succeeded. Out of war peace gains fresh stability, but to refuse to abandon repose for war is not so sure a method of avoiding danger. [3] We must believe that the tyrant city that has been established in Hellas has been established against all alike, with a program of universal empire, part fulfilled, part in contemplation; let us then attack and reduce it, and win future security for ourselves and freedom for the Hellenes who are now enslaved.”

The Corinthians conclude with an appeal to their allies to vote for war in order to deny Athens her goal of universal empire.

Such were the words of the Corinthians. [1.125.1] The Spartans having now heard all give their opinion, took the vote of all the allied states present in order, great and small alike; and the majority voted for war. [2] This decided, it was still impossible for them to commence at once, from their want of preparation; but it was resolved that the means requisite were to be procured by the different states, and that there was to be no delay. And indeed, in spite of the time occupied with the necessary arrangements, less than a year elapsed before Attica was invaded, and the war openly begun.

The Peloponnesians vote for war; less than one year later Attica is invaded.

This interval was spent in sending embassies to Athens charged with complaints, in order to obtain as good a pretext for war as possible, in the event of her paying no attention to them. [2] The first Spartan embassy was to order the Athenians to drive out the curse of the goddess; the history of which is as follows. [3] In former generations there was an Athenian of the name of Cylon, a victor at the Olympic games, of good birth and powerful position, who had married a daughter of Theagenes, a Megarian, at that time tyrant of Megara. [4] Now this Cylon was inquiring at Delphi when he was told by the god to seize the Acropolis of Athens on the grand festival of Zeus. [5] Accordingly, procuring a force from Theagenes and persuading his friends to join him, he seized the Acropolis when the Olympic festival in the Peloponnesus began with the intention of making himself tyrant, thinking that this was the grand festival of Zeus, and also an occasion appropriate for a victor at the Olympic games. [6] Whether the grand festival that was meant was in Attica or elsewhere was a question which he never thought of, and which the oracle did not offer to solve. For the Athenians also have a festival which is called the grand festival of Zeus Meilichios or Gracious, namely, the Diasia. It is celebrated outside the city, and the whole people sacrifice not real victims but a number of bloodless offerings peculiar to the country. However, fancying he had chosen the right time, he made the attempt. [7] As soon as the Athenians perceived it, they flocked in, one and all, from the country, and sat down, and laid siege to the citadel. [8] But as time went on, weary of the labor of blockade, most of them departed; the responsibility of keeping guard being left to the nine archons, with plenary powers to arrange everything according to their good judgment. It must be known that at that time most political functions were discharged by the nine archons. [9] Meanwhile Cylon and his besieged companions were distressed for want of food and water. [10] Accordingly Cylon and his brother made their escape; but the rest being hard pressed, and some even dying of famine, seated themselves as suppliants at the altar in the Acropolis. [11] The Athenians who were charged with the duty of keeping guard, when they saw them at the point of death in the temple, raised them up on the understanding that no harm should be done to them, led them out, and slew them. Some who as they passed by took refuge at the altars of the awful goddesses were dispatched on the spot. From this deed the men who killed them were called accursed and guilty against the goddess, they and their descendants. [12] Accordingly these cursed ones were driven out by the Athenians, and driven out again by Cleomenes of Sparta and an Athenian faction; the living were driven out, and the bones of the dead were taken up; thus they were cast out. For all that, they came back afterwards, and their descendants are still in the city.

As a pretext for war, Sparta tells Athens to drive out the curse of the goddess. Thucydides describes Cylon’s attempted coup, from which the curse derived.

This, then, was the curse that the Spartans ordered them to drive out. They were actuated primarily, as they pretended, by care for the honor of the gods; but they also knew that Pericles son of Xanthippus was connected with the curse on his mother’s side, and they thought that his banishment would materially advance their designs on Athens. [2] Not that they really hoped to succeed in procuring this; they rather thought to create a prejudice against him in the eyes of his countrymen from the feeling that the war would be partly caused by his misfortune. [3] For being the most powerful man of his time, and the leading Athenian statesman, he opposed the Spartans in everything, and would have no concessions, but ever urged the Athenians on to war.

Thucydides reports that the Spartan aim was to discredit Pericles, a powerful Athenian who opposed concessions to Sparta and was one of “the accursed.”

The Athenians retorted by ordering the Spartans to drive out the curse of Taenarum. The Spartans had once raised up some Helot suppliants from the temple of Poseidon at Taenarum, led them away, and slain them; for which they believe the great earthquake at Sparta to have been a retribution. [2] The Athenians also ordered them to drive out the curse of the goddess of the Bronze House; the history of which is as follows. [3] After Pausanias the Spartan had been recalled by the Spartans from his command in the Hellespont (this is his first recall), and had been tried by them and acquitted, not being again sent out in a public capacity, he took a trireme of Hermione on his own responsibility, without the authority of the Spartans, and arrived as a private person in the Hellespont. He came ostensibly for the Hellenic war, but really to carry on his intrigues with the King, which he had begun before his recall, being ambitious of reigning over Hellas. [4] The circumstance which first enabled him to lay the King under an obligation, and to make a beginning of the whole design was this. [5] Some connections and kinsmen of the King had been taken in Byzantium on its capture from the Persians, when he was first there after the return from Cyprus. These captives he sent off to the King without the knowledge of the rest of the allies, the account being that they had escaped from him. [6] He managed this with the help of Gongylus, an Eretrian, whom he had placed in charge of Byzantium and the prisoners. He also gave Gongylus a letter for the King, the contents of which were as follows, as was afterwards discovered: [7] “Pausanias, the general of Sparta, anxious to do you a favor, sends you these his prisoners of war. I propose also, with your approval, to marry your daughter, and to make Sparta and the rest of Hellas subject to you. I may say that I think I am able to do this, with your cooperation. Accordingly if any of this please you, send a safe man to the sea through whom we may in future conduct our correspondence.”

Athens in turn tells Sparta to drive out the curse of Taenarum and the curse of the goddess of the Bronze House, the latter involving Pausanias’ attempt to betray the Greeks to Xerxes.

This was all that was revealed in the writing, and Xerxes was pleased with the letter. He sent off Artabazus son of Pharnaces to the sea with orders to supersede Megabates, the previous governor in the province of Dascylium, and to send over as quickly as possible to Pausanias at Byzantium a letter which he entrusted to him; to show him the royal signet, and to execute any commission which he might receive from Pausanias on the King’s business, with all care and fidelity. [2] Artabazus on his arrival carried the King’s orders into effect, and sent over the letter, [3] which contained the following answer: “Thus saith King Xerxes to Pausanias. For the men whom you have saved for me from Byzantium across sea, an obligation is laid up to you in our house, recorded forever; and with your proposals I am well pleased. Let neither night nor day stop you from diligently performing any of your promises to me, neither for cost of gold nor of silver let them be hindered, nor yet for number of troops, wherever it may be that their presence is needed; but with Artabazus, an honorable man whom I send you, boldly advance my objects and yours, as may be most for the honor and interest of us both.”

The account of the curse of the goddess of the Bronze House begins with Xerxes’ favorable response to Pausanias’ letter.



Previously held in high honor by the Hellenes as the hero of Plataea, Tansanias, after the receipt of this letter, became prouder than ever, and could no longer live in the usual style, but went out of Byzantium in a Median dress, was attended on his march through Thrace by a bodyguard of Medes and Egyptians, kept a Persian table, and was quite unable to contain his intentions, but he betrayed by his conduct in trifles what his ambition looked one day to enact on a grander scale. [2] He also made himself difficult of access, and displayed so violent a temper to everyone without exception that no one could come near him. Indeed, this was the principal reason why the confederacy went over to the Athenians.

Pausanias adopts Persian ways and antagonizes the Greeks.

The above-mentioned conduct, coming to the ears of the Spartans, occasioned his first recall. And after his second voyage out in the ship of Hermione, without their orders, he gave proofs of similar behavior. Besieged and expelled from Byzantium by the Athenians, he did not return to Sparta; but news came that he had settled at Colonae in the Troad, and was intriguing with the barbarians, and that his stay there was for no good purpose; and the ephors, now no longer hesitating, sent him a herald and a scytale1e with orders to accompany the herald or be declared a public enemy. [2] Anxious above everything to avoid suspicion, and confident that he could quash the charge by means of money, he returned a second time to Sparta. At first thrown into prison by the ephors (whose powers enable them to do this to the king), he soon compromised the matter and came out again, and offered himself for trial to any who wished to institute an inquiry concerning him.

Suspecting treachery, the ephors recall Pausanias.

Now the Spartans had no tangible proof against him—neither his enemies nor the city as a whole—of that indubitable kind required for the punishment of a member of the royal family, and at that moment in high office; he being regent for his first cousin King Pleistarchus, Leonidas’ son, who was still a minor. But by his contempt of the laws and imitation of the barbarians, [2] he gave grounds for much suspicion of his being discontented with things established; all the occasions on which he had in any way departed from the regular customs were passed in review, and it was remembered that he had taken upon himself to have inscribed on the tripod at Delphi, which was dedicated by the Hellenes, as the first-fruits of the spoil of the Medes, the following couplet:

The ephors suspect Pausanias but they lack proof, until one of his servants betrays him.

The Mede defeated, great Pausanias raised
This monument, that Phoebus might be praised.



[3] At the time the Spartans had at once erased the couplet, and inscribed the names of the cities that had aided in the overthrow of the barbarian and dedicated the offering. Yet it was considered that Pausanias had here been guilty of a grave offense, which, interpreted by the light of the attitude which he had since assumed, gained a new significance, and seemed to be quite in keeping with his present schemes. [4] Besides, they were informed that he was even intriguing with the Helots; and such indeed was the fact, for he was promising them freedom and citizenship if they would join him in insurrection, and would help him to carry out his plans to the end. [5] Even now, mistrusting the evidence even of the Helots themselves, the ephors would not consent to take any decided step against him; in accordance with their regular custom toward themselves, namely, to be slow in taking any irrevocable resolve in the matter of a Spartan citizen, without indisputable proof. At last, it is said, the person who was going to carry to Artabazus the last letter for the King, a man of Argilus, once the favorite and most trusty servant of Pausanias, turned informer. Alarmed by the reflection that none of the previous messengers had ever returned, having counterfeited the seal, in order that, if he found himself mistaken in his surmises, or if Pausanias should ask to make some correction, he might not be discovered, he undid the letter, and found the postscript that he had suspected, namely, an order to put him to death.

On being shown the letter the ephors now felt more certain. Still, they wished with their own ears to hear Pausanias commit himself. Accordingly the man went by appointment to Taenarum as a suppliant, and there found shelter for himself in a hut divided into two by a partition; within which he concealed some of the ephors and let them hear the whole matter plainly. For Pausanias came to him and asked him the reason of his suppliant position; and the man reproached him with the order that he had written concerning him, and one by one declared all the rest of the circumstances, how he who had never yet brought him into any danger, while employed as agent between him and the King, was yet just like the mass of his servants, to be rewarded with death. Admitting all this, and telling him not to be angry about the matter, Pausanias gave him guarantee of safety in getting him to leave the temple, and begged him to set off as quickly as possible, and not to hinder the business in hand.

Posing as a suppliant at Taenarum, the servant tricks Pausanias into disclosing his crimes to the ephors in hiding.

The ephors listened caretully, and then departed, taking no action tor the moment, but, having at last reached certainty, were preparing to arrest him in the city. It is reported that, as he was about to be arrested in the street, he saw from the face of one of the ephors what he was coming for; another, too, made him a secret signal, and betrayed it to him from kindness. Setting off at a run for the temple of the goddess of the Bronze House, the enclosure of which was near at hand, he succeeded in taking sanctuary before they took him, and entering into a small chamber, which formed part of the temple, to avoid being exposed to the weather, he remained there. [2] The ephors, for the moment distanced in the pursuit, afterwards took off the roof of the chamber, and having made sure that he was inside, shut him in, barricaded the doors, and staying before the place, reduced him by starvation. [3] When they found that he was on the point of expiring, just as he was, in the chamber, they brought him out of the temple, while the breath was still in him, and as soon as he was brought out he died. [4] They were going to throw him into the Kaiadas, where they cast criminals, but finally decided to inter him somewhere near. But the god at Delphi afterwards ordered the Spartans to remove the tomb to the place of his death—where he now lies in the consecrated ground, as an inscription on a monument declares—and, as what had been done was a curse to them, to give back two bodies instead of one to the goddess of the Bronze House. So they had two bronze statues made, and dedicated them as a substitute for Pausanias. [1.135.1] Accordingly the Athenians retorted by telling the Spartans to drive out what the god himself had pronounced to be a curse.

Pausanias takes sanctuary in the temple of the goddess of the Bronze House. The ephors shut him in there and he starves to death, causing the curse.



[2] To return to the Medism of Pausanias, matter was found in the course of the inquiry to implicate Themistocles; and the Spartans accordingly sent envoys to the Athenians and required them to punish him as they had punished Pausanias. The Athenians consented to do so. [3] He had, as it happened, been ostracized and, from a residence at Argos, was in the habit of visiting other parts of the Peloponnesus. So they sent with the Spartans, who were ready to join in the pursuit, persons with instructions to take him wherever they found him.

The investigation of Pausanias implicates Themistocles, who had been ostracized from Athens.

Themistocles became aware of their intentions, however, and fled from the Peloponnesus to Corcyra, which was under obligations toward him. But the Corcyraeans alleged that they could not venture to shelter him at the cost of offending Athens and Sparta, and they conveyed him over to the continent opposite. [2] Pursued by the officers who hung on the report of his movements, and at a loss where to turn, he was compelled to stop at the house of Admetus, the Molossian king, though they were not on friendly terms. [3] Admetus happened not to be indoors, but his wife, to whom he made himself a suppliant, instructed him to take their child in his arms and sit down by the hearth. [4] Soon afterwards Admetus came in, and Themistocles told him who he was, and begged him not to take revenge on Themistocles in exile for any opposition which his requests might have experienced from Themistocles at Athens. Indeed, he was now far too low for such revenge; retaliation was only honorable between equals. Besides, his opposition to the king had only affected the success of a request, not the safety of his person; if the king were to give him up to the pursuers that he mentioned, and the fate which they intended for him, he would just be consigning him to certain death.

Unable to remain at Corcyra, Themistocles flees to Molossia, to whose king, Admetus, a former adversary, he now becomes a suppliant.

The king listened to him and raised him up with his son, as he was sitting with him in his arms after the most effectual method of supplication, and on the arrival of the Spartans not long afterwards, refused to give him up for anything they could say, but sent him off by land to the other sea to Pydna in Alexander’s dominions, as he wished to go to the Persian King. [2] There he met with a merchant ship on the point of starting for Ionia. Going on board, he was carried by a storm to the Athenian squadron which was blockading Naxos. In his alarm—he was luckily unknown to the people in the vessel—he told the master who he was and what he was flying for, and said that, if he refused to save him, he would declare that the captain had been bribed into taking him. Meanwhile their safety consisted in letting no one leave the ship until a favorable time for sailing should arise. If he complied with his wishes, Themistocles promised him a proper recompense. The master acted as he desired, and, after lying at anchor for a day and a night out of the reach of the squadron, at length arrived at Ephesus.

[3] After having rewarded him with a present of money, as soon as he received some from his friends at Athens and from his secret hoards at Argos, Themistocles started inland with a Persian from the coast, and sent a letter to King Artaxerxes, Xerxes’ son, who had just come to the throne. Its contents were as follows: [4] “I, Themistocles, am come to you, who did your house more harm than any of the Hellenes, when I was compelled to defend myself against your father’s invasion—harm, however, far surpassed by the good that I did him during his retreat, which brought no danger for me but much for him. For the past, you owe me a good turn”—here he alluded to the warning sent to Xerxes from Salamis to retreat, as well as his finding the bridges unbroken, which, as he falsely pretended, was due to him—“for the present, able to do you great service, I am here, pursued by the Hellenes for my friendship for you. However, I desire a year’s grace, when I shall be able to declare in person the objects of my coming.”

Admetus protects Themistocles and sends him to Pydna.
Sailing to Ionia, his boat is forced to Naxos, a city besieged by Athenians. He avoids discovery and reaches Ephesus.
He writes to Xerxes, describing his past services to the Persians and offering future ones.



It is said that the King approved his intention, and told him to do as he said. He employed the interval in making what progress he could in the study of the Persian tongue, and of the customs of the country. [2] Arrived at court at the end of the year, he attained to very high consideration there, such as no Hellene has ever possessed before or since; partly from his splendid reputation, partly from the hopes which he held out of effecting the subjugation of Hellas, but principally by the proof which experience daily gave of his intelligence. [3] For Themistocles was a man who exhibited the most indubitable signs of genius; indeed, in this particular he has a claim on our admiration quite extraordinary and unparalleled. By his own native capacity, which was neither shaped by education nor developed by later training, he was at once the best judge in those sudden crises which admit of little or of no deliberation, and the best prophet of the future, even to its most distant possibilities. An able theoretical expositor of all that came within the sphere of his practice, he was not without the power of passing an adequate judgment in matters in which he had no experience. He could also excellently divine the good and evil which lay hidden in the unseen future. To sum up, whether we consider the extent of his natural powers, or the slightness of his application, this extraordinary man must be allowed to have surpassed all others in the faculty of intuitively meeting an emergency. [4] Disease was the real cause of his death; though there is a story of his having ended his life by poison, on finding himself unable to fulfill his promises to the King. [5] However this may be, there is a monument to him in the agora of Asiatic Magnesia. He was governor of the district, the King having given him Magnesia, which brought in fifty talents a year for bread, Lampsacus, which was considered to be the richest wine country, for wine, and Myos for other provisions. [6] His bones, it is said, were conveyed home by his relatives in accordance with his wishes, and interred in Attic ground. This was done without the knowledge of the Athenians; as it is against the law to bury in Attica an outlaw for treason. So ends the history of Pausanias and Themistocles, the Spartan and the Athenian, the most famous men of their time in Hellas.

Themistocles is well received by Xerxes. Thucydides applauds Themistocles’ extraordinary ability to foresee events and make decisions. Xerxes appoints him a governor.

To return to the Spartans. The history or their first embassy, the injunctions which it conveyed and the rejoinder which it provoked concerning the expulsion of the accursed persons, have been related already. It was followed by a second, which ordered Athens to raise the siege of Potidaea, and to respect the independence of Aegina. Above all, it made very clear to the Athenians that war might be prevented if they revoked the Megara decree, excluding the Megarians from the use of Athenian harbors and of the market of Athens. [2] But Athens was not inclined either to revoke the decree, or to entertain their other proposals; she accused the Megarians of pushing their cultivation into the consecrated ground and the unenclosed land on the border, and of harboring her runaway slaves. [3] At last an embassy arrived with the Spartan ultimatum. The ambassadors were Ramphias, Melesippus, and Agesander. Not a word was said on any of the old subjects; there was simply this: “Sparta wishes the peace to continue, and there is no reason why it should not, if you would let the Hellenes be independent.” Upon this the Athenians held an assembly, and laid the matter before their consideration. It was resolved to deliberate once and for all on all their demands, and to give them an answer. [4] There were many speakers who came forward and gave their support to one side or the other, urging the necessity of war, or the revocation of the decree and the folly of allowing it to stand in the way of peace. Among them came forward Pericles son of Xanthippus, the first man of his time at Athens, ablest alike in counsel and in action, and gave the following advice:

Sparta also demands that Athens raise the siege of Potidaea, restore independence to Aegina, and rescind the Megarian Decree. A final ultimatum orders Athens to let the Hellenes be independent. As the Athenians debate these demands, Pericles rises to speak.

“There is one principle, Athenians, which I hold to through everything, and that is the principle of no concession to the Peloponnesians. I know that the spirit which inspires men while they are being persuaded to make war is not always retained in action, that as circumstances change, resolutions change. Yet I see that now as before the same, almost literally the same, counsel is demanded of me; and I put it to those of you who are allowing yourselves to be persuaded, to support the decisions of the assembly even in the case of reverses, or to forfeit all credit for their wisdom in the event of success. For sometimes the course of things is as arbitrary as the plans of man; indeed this is why we usually blame chance for whatever does not happen as we expected. [2] Now it was clear before that Sparta entertained designs against us; it is still more clear now. The treaty provides that we shall mutually submit our differences to arbitration, and that we shall meanwhile each keep what we have. Yet the Spartans never yet made us any such offer, never yet would accept from us any such offer; on the contrary, they wish complaints to be settled by war instead of by negotiation; and in the end we find them here dropping the tone of protest and adopting that of command. [3] They order us to raise the siege of Potidaea, to let Aegina be independent, to revoke the Megara decree; and they conclude with an ultimatum warning us to leave the Hellenes independent. [4] I hope that you will none of you think that we shall be going to war for a trifle if we refuse to revoke the Megara decree, which appears in front of their complaints, and the revocation of which is to save us from war, or let any feeling of self-reproach linger in your minds, as if you went to war for slight cause. [5] Why, this trifle contains the whole seal and trial of your resolution. If you give way, you will instantly have to meet some greater demand, as having been frightened into obedience in the first instance; while a firm refusal will make them clearly understand that they must treat you as equals.”

Pericles demands no concession to Sparta because she has not offered or accepted arbitration, as called for in the treaty, and her demands have grown more dictatorial and threatening. He says the Megarian Decree is not a trifle, but a symbol of Athenian response to Spartan pressure.

“Make your decision therefore at once, either to submit before you are harmed, or if we are to go to war, as I for one think we ought, to do so without caring whether the ostensible cause be great or small, resolved against making concessions or consenting to a precarious tenure of our possessions. For all claims from an equal, urged upon a neighbor as commands, before any attempt at arbitration, be they great or be they small, have only one meaning, and that is slavery.”

Pericles says that to heed Sparta’s demands can lead only to slavery. He points out that the Peloponnesians lack funds to sustain conflicts and, being farmers, they will not be able to mobilize for long campaigns; that they cannot threaten Athens at sea; and, as a league of states with divergent interests, they will find it hard to act quickly or decisively.

[2] “As to the war and the resources of either party, a detailed comparison will not show you the inferiority of Athens. [3] Personally engaged in the cultivation of their land, without funds either private or public, the Peloponnesians are also without experience in long wars across sea, from the strict limit which poverty imposes on their attacks upon each other. [4] Powers of this description are quite incapable of often manning a fleet or often sending out an army: they cannot afford the absence from their homes, the expenditure from their own funds; and besides, they have not command of the sea. [5] Capital, it must be remembered, maintains a war more than forced contributions. Farmers are a class of men that are always more ready to serve in person than in purse. Confident that the former will survive the dangers, they are by no means so sure that the latter will not be prematurely exhausted, especially if the war last longer than they expect, which it very likely will. [6] In a single battle the Peloponnesians and their allies may be able to defy all Hellas, but they are incapacitated from carrying on a war against a power different in character from their own, by the want of the single council chamber requisite to prompt and vigorous action, and the substitution of a congress composed of various peoples, in which every state possesses an equal vote, and each presses its own ends—a condition of things which generally results in no action at all. [7] The great wish of some is to avenge themselves on some particular enemy, the great wish of others to save their own pocket. Slow in assembling, they devote a very small fraction of the time to the consideration of any matter of common concern, most of it to the prosecution of their own affairs. Meanwhile each fancies that no harm will come of his neglect, that it is the business of somebody else to look after this or that for him; and so, by the same notion being entertained by all separately, the common cause imperceptibly decays.”

“But the principal point is the hindrance that they will experience from want of money. The slowness with which it comes in will cause delay; but the opportunities of war wait for no man. [2] Again, we need not be alarmed either at the possibility of their raising fortifications in Attica, or at their navy. [3] It would be difficult for any system of fortifications to establish a rival city, even in time of peace, much more, surely, in an enemy’s country, with Athens just as much fortified against it, as it against Athens; [4] while a mere post might be able to do some harm to the country by incursions and by the facilities which it would afford for desertion, it can never prevent our sailing into their country and raising fortifications there, and making reprisals with our powerful fleet. [5] For our naval skill is of more use to us for service on land, than their military skill for service at sea. [6] Familiarity with the sea they will not find an easy acquisition. [7] If you who have been practicing at it ever since the Persian invasion have not yet brought it to perfection, is there any chance of anything considerable being effected by an agricultural, unseafaring population, who will besides be prevented from practicing by the constant presence of strong squadrons of observation from Athens? [8] With a small squadron they might hazard an engagement, encouraging their ignorance by numbers; but the restraint of a strong force will prevent their moving, and through want of practice they will grow more clumsy, and consequently more timid. [9] It must be kept in mind that seamanship, just like anything else, is a matter requiring skill, and will not admit of being taken up occasionally as an occupation for times of leisure; on the contrary, it is so exacting as to leave leisure for nothing else.”

Pericles argues that the enemy’s principal handicap will be lack of money; that Athenian sea power will be more effective against them on land than their land power against Athens at sea; and that they will not easily acquire the skill to challenge Athens at sea, especially if Athenian fleets limit their opportunities to practice.

Pericles asserts that Sparta, even if she obtains funds, will never match Athens at sea, for Athens has enough citizen-sailors to match all of Hellas. Athens has lands across the sea that Sparta cannot harm. “Thus we must forgo our properties in Attica and, viewing ourselves as islanders, value most our sea power and its ability to provide us resources from our empire.”

“Even if they were to touch the moneys at Olympia or Delphi, and try to seduce our foreign sailors by the temptation of higher pay, that would only be a serious danger if we could not still be a match for them, by embarking our own citizens and the resident aliens. But in fact by this means we are always a match for them; and, best of all, we have a larger and higher class of native coxswains and sailors among our own citizens than all the rest of Hellas. [2] And to say nothing of the danger of such a step, none of our foreign sailors would consent to become an outlaw from his country, and to take service with them and their hopes, for the sake of a few days’ high pay.”

[3] “This, I think, is a tolerably fair account of the position of the Peloponnesians; that of Athens is free from the defects that I have criticized in them, and has other advantages of its own, which they can show nothing to equal. [4] If they march against our country we will sail against theirs, and it will then be found that the desolation of the whole of Attica is not the same as that of even a fraction of the Peloponnesus; for they will not be able to supply the deficiency except by a battle, while we have plenty of land both on the islands and the continent. [5] The rule of the sea is indeed a great matter. Consider for a moment. Suppose that we were islanders: can you conceive a more impregnable position? Well, this in future should, as far as possible, be our conception of our position. Dismissing all thought of our land and houses, we must vigilantly guard the sea and the city. No irritation that we may feel for the former must provoke us to a battle with the numerical superiority of the Peloponnesians. A victory would only be succeeded by another battle against the same superiority: a reverse involves the loss of our allies, the source of our strength, who will not remain quiet a day after we become unable to march against them. We must cry not over the loss of houses and land but of men’s lives; since houses and land do not gain men, but men them. And if I had thought that I could persuade you, I would have bid you go out and lay them waste with your own hands, and show the Peloponnesians that this at any rate will not make you submit.”

Pericles concludes his speech by advising the Athenians to accept this war as inevitable, and to avoid any new conquests or unnecessary risks until the war is over. He suggests that they let the Peloponnesians commence hostilities and reminds the Athenians of their glorious past.

“I have many other reasons to hope for a favorable outcome, if you can consent not to combine schemes of fresh conquest with the conduct of the war, and will abstain from willfully involving yourselves in other dangers; indeed, I am more afraid of our own blunders than of the enemy’s devices. [2] But these matters shall be explained in another speech, as events require; for the present dismiss these men with the answer that we will allow Megara the use of our market and harbors when the Spartans suspend their alien acts against us and our allies, there being nothing in the treaty to prevent either one or the other; that we will leave the cities independent, if independent we found them when we made the treaty, and when the Spartans grant to their cities an independence not involving subservience to Spartan interest, but such as each severally may desire; that we are willing to give the legal satisfaction which our agreements specify; and that we shall not commence hostilities, but shall resist those who do commence them. This is an answer agreeable at once to the rights and the dignity of Athens. [3] It must be thoroughly understood that war is a necessity, and that the more readily we accept it, the less will be the ardor of our opponents, and that out of the greatest dangers communities and individuals acquire the greatest glory. Did not our fathers resist the Persians not only with resources far different from ours, but even when those resources had been abandoned; and more by wisdom than by fortune, more by daring than by strength, did not they beat off the barbarian and advance their affairs to their present height? We must not fall behind them, but must resist our enemies in any way and in every way, and attempt to hand down our power to our posterity unimpaired.”



The Athenians vote as Pericles advises and the Spartan envoys return home.

Such were the words of Pericles. The Athenians, persuaded of the wisdom of his advice, voted as he desired, and answered the Spartans as he recommended, both on the separate points and in general: they would not respond to commands, but were ready to have the complaints settled in a fair and impartial manner by arbitration, which the terms of the truce prescribe. So the envoys departed home, and did not return again.

Thus the stage was set for war, though it did not yet begin.

These were the charges and differences existing between the rival powers before the war, arising immediately from the affair at Epidamnus and Corcyra. Still intercourse continued in spite of them, and mutual communication. It was carried on without heralds, but not without suspicion, as events were occurring which were equivalent to a breach of the treaty and matter for war.

See the Introduction (sec. I) for a discussion of what is known about the life of Thucydides the historian.

“The Archaeology” is the term commonly used for the opening chapters of Book 1 (2-23) in which Thucydides seeks to contrast the greatness of the Peloponnesian War with the pettiness of previous history.

Thessaly: Map 1.3, AX.

Boeotia: Map 1.3, AX.

Peloponnesus: Map 1.3, BX.

Arcadia: Map 1.3, BX.

Attica: Map 1.3, BX.

Ionia: Map 1.3, AY. See Appendix H, Dialects and Ethnic Groups, ©4-5, 7-8, for information on the Ionians and the colonization of Ionia.

Troy, site of the Trojan war: Map 1.3, AY.

Phthiotis: Map 1.3, AX.

Minos is the probably mythical ruler of Minoa, a legendary seafaring culture based on the island of Crete; see Map 1.3, BY.

Cyclades, Aegean islands: Map 1.3, BY.

Caria: Map 1.3, BY.

Ozolian Locris: Map 1.3, AX.

Aetolia:Map 1.3, AX.

Acarnania: Map 1.3, AX.

Athens: Map 1.3, BX.

See Appendix H, Dialects and Ethnic Groups, ©4-5, 7-8, for more on the Ionians.

Sparta: Map 1.3, BX.

These contests, the ancestor of the modern “Olympic Games,” took place at the shrine of Olympia (Map 1.3, BX); see Appendix I, Religious Festivals, ©5. Such festivals often included athletic and cultural contests.

Caria: Map 1.3, BY, and Map 1.11, BY.

Phoenicia: Map 1.14.

Delos: Map 1.11, BY. This purification is described by Thucydides in 3.104.

Troy: Map 1.11, AY.

“Asia” here means Asia Minor, corresponding to the Asian territory of modern Turkey; see Map 1.11, locator.

Attica: Map. 1.11, BY.

Argos: Map 1.11, BX.

Mycenae: Map 1.11, BX.

Sparta: Map 1.11, BX.

Peloponnesus: Map 1.11, BX.

Boeotia: Map 1.11, BX.

Chersonese: Map 1.11, AY.

Troy: Map 1.11, AY.

“Ilium” is another name for Troy. Map 1.11, AY.

Boeotia: Map 1.11, BX.

Arne in Thessaly: Map 1.11, AX.

Thessaly: Map 1.11, AX.

Athens: Map 1.11, BX.

Ionia: Map 1.11, BY. See Appendix H, Dialects and Ethnic Groups, ©5, 7-8, for more on the Dorians and the Ionians.

Italy: Map 1.14.

Sicily: Map 1.14.

Corinth: Map 1.11, BX.

Triremes were the standard warships of this period; see Appendix G, ©4-7.

Samos:Map 1.11, BY.

Corcyra: Map 1.11, AX.

Ionia: Map 1.11, BY.

Cyrus the Great founded the Persian kingdom and ruled from 550 to 530. Cambyses ruled from 530 till 521. See Appendix E, The Persians, ©1-2.

Rhenea: Map 1.11, BY.

Phocaea: Map 1.11, AY.

Marseilles: Map 1.14.

Carthage: Map 1.14.

Aegina: Map 1.11, BX.

Salamis: site of the decisive naval battle between the Greeks and Persians in 480; see Map 1.11, BX, and Appendix E, The Persians, ©4.

Chalcis, Euboea: Map 1.11, BX.

Eretria, Euboea: Map 1.11, BX.

Thucydides here refers to the “Lelantine war” of the late eighth century B.C. between Chalcis and Eretria of Euboea (Map 1.11, AX).

Ionia: Map 1.11, BY.

Croesus, king of Lydia (Map 1.14), conquered by the Persians in 546. See Appendix E, The Persians, ©2-3.

Halys River: Map 1.14.

Phoenicia: Map 1.14. The Phoenician fleet was a major component of Persian naval power.

Sparta: Map 1.11, BX.

See Appendix D, The Peloponnesian League, ©6.

The battle of Marathon (Map 1.11, BY) was fought in 490. See Appendix E, The Persians, ©4. The Greeks regularly referred to the Persians as “the Mede,” or “the Medes,” and to the Persian wars as the “Median wars,” although the Medes and Persians were distinct peoples. See Appendix E, The Persians, ©1.

The term “King” is capitalized throughout this edition when it signifies the great King of Persia to distinguish him from all others carrying that title. See Appendix E, The Persians, ©2.

See Appendix D, The Peloponnesian League, ©6.

Chios: Map 1.11, BY. See Appendix B, The Athenian Empire, ©2, 5.

Lesbos: Map 1.11, AY.

The assassination of Hipparchus is described at greater length in 6.54-59.

See the Introduction (sec. II.v) for discussion of the speeches in Thucydides.

This is a much debated passage for what it indicates about Thucydides’ attitude toward religion. See the Introduction (sec. IV.i).

The Thirty Years’ Peace treaty of 446; see 1.115.1.

It has been argued that section 6 here was written by Thucydides at a substantially later time than section 5, and may represent a radical change of mind about the causes of the war.

Epidamnus: Map 1.26, AX.

Ionic ( Ionian ) Gulf ( the modern Adriatic Sea): Map 1.26, locator.

Illyria: Map 1.26, locator.

Corcyra: Map 1.26, AX.

Corinth: Map 1.26, BY.

Presumably the temple of Hera (Map 3.76, inset) where Corcyraean oligarchs were suppliants. See 3.75.4.

Delphi: Map 1.26, BY.

For the Phaeacians, see Homer’s Odyssey, Books 6-8.

Ambracia: Map 1.26, AX.

Leucas: Map 1.26, BX.

Apollonia: Map 1.26, AX.

Epidamnus: Map 1.26, AX.

The drachma is a monetary unit. See Appendix J, Classical Greek Currency, ©3.

Megara: Map 1.26, BY.

Cephallenia and the city of Pale on that island: Map 1.26, BX.

Epidaurus: Map 1.26, BY.

Hermione: Map 1.26, BY.

Troezen: Map 1.26, BY.

Thebes: Map 1.26, BY.

Phlius: Map 1.26, BY.

Elis: Map 1.26, BX.

Hoplite is the Greek word for a heavily armed infantryman; see Appendix F, Land Warfare, ©2.

Sicyon: Map 1.26, BY.

Heralds, already a venerable Greek institution in Thucydides’ day, operated under the protection of the god Hermes and were easily identified by the staff they carried. They alone could travel unmolested between states or armies during wartime in order to deliver messages, take back replies, and make perfunctory arrangements.

Actium: Map 1.26, AX.

Anactorium: Map 1.26, AX.

Gulf of Ambracia: Map 1.26, AX.

Like all triremes, these older ships required internal torsion ropes that pulled the bow and stern of the vessel together, strengthening the ship against wave action by tension and preventing joints from opening. For more information about naval battles, see Appendix G, Trireme Warfare.

Cape Leukimme: Map 1.26. AX. After a battle in ancient Greece, the victorious side raised a trophy, usually a set of captured armor, arranged on a pole at or near the battlefield; seeAppendix F, Land Warfare, ©6.

Leucas:Map 1.26, BX.

Cyllene: Map 1.26, BX.

Actium: Map 1.26, AX.

Chimerium and Thesprotis: Map 1.26, AX (according to N.G.L. Hammond, “Naval Operations in the South Channel of Corcyra, 435-433,” Journal of Hellenic Studies, 65:26-37).

Generally, rowers were paid one drachma per day, i.e., the standard wage for a day’s labor. Experienced rowers, especially thranites (see Glossary) were highly sought after and could demand a bonus; see note 6.31.3b. Also see Appendix G, Trireme Warfare, ©12.

Assembly: see Appendix A, The Athenian Government, ©5-8.

For the Thirty Years’ Peace Treaty of 446, see 1.115.1.

The geographical relation between Corcyra and Italy-Sicily is displayed in Map 1.14. See Appendix G, Trireme Warfare, ©7, for an explanation of why military vessels (triremes) were forced to follow coastlines and rarely ventured, like merchant vessels, into the open sea.

If the Peloponnesian League debated the question of helping Samos in 441/0, Sparta probably proposed that such help be given. The revolt of the island of Samos from the Athenians took place in 441/0 and is described by Thucydides in 1.115-17. See Appendix D, The Peloponnesian League, ©5. Samos: Map 1.11, BY, and Map 1.115.

The war between Athens and Aegina of 491 B.C. (see Herodotus, Book 6, 87-93). Aegina: Map 1.46, BY.

Megara: Map 1.46, BY. Although some believe Thucydides here refers to the Megara Decree (cf. 1.67.4, 1.139.1, 1.140.3-4, and 1.144.2), and therefore date it prior to mid-433, most take it as a reference to Corinth’s hatred for Athens caused by the defection of Megara to the Athenian alliance in about 460; cf. 1.103.4.

The geographical relation between Corcyra and Italy-Sicily is displayed in Map 1.14.

Elis: Map 1.46, BX.

Megara: Map 1.46, BY.

Leucas: Map 1.46, BX.

Ambracia: Map 1.46, AX.

Anactorium: Map 1.46, AX.

Chimerium: Map 1.46, inset. Thesprotis: Map 1.46, AX and inset (according to N.G.L. Hammond; see note 1.30.3b.

Ephyre: Map 1.46, inset.

Acherusian Lake, River Acheron: Map 1.46, inset.

Thyamis river, possible location: Map 1.46, AY.

Kestrine: Map 1.46, AX.

Sybota isles: Map 1.46, inset.

Cape Leukimme, Corcyra: Map 1.46, inset.

Zacynthus: Map 1.46, BX.

Map 1.46, inset, shows a reconstruction of the battle location and formations from J. S. Morrison and J. R. Coates, The Athenian Trireme (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 63. They follow N.G.L. Hammond, “Naval Operations in the South Channel of Corcyra, 435-433,” Journal of Hellenic Studies, 65: 26-37.

For these maneuvers, see the Athenian commander Phormio’s speech in 2.89.8, and Appendix G, Trireme Warfare, ©5.

For naval “stuff at shore bases, see Appendix G, Trireme Warfare, ©8.

Sybota: Map 1.46, inset.

The paean was a ritual chant that classical Greek soldiers and sailors sang as they advanced into battle, rallied, or celebrated victory.

Leukimme, at the northern end of Cape Leukimme on Corcyra: Map 1.46, inset.

For the significance of the “herald’s wand” here, see note 1.29.1a.

Anactorium, Ambracian Gulf: Map 1.46, AX.

The Corcyraeans employed slaves in their navy, which was quite unusual; see 7.13.2, 8.15.2, and Appendix G, Trireme Warfare, ©12.

Thucydides’ narrative returns next to Corcyra in 3.70.

Potidaea, at the isthmus of the Pallene Peninsula in Chalcidice: Map 1.60, BX.

That Potidaea received annual magistrates from Corinth as late as 432 is a notable comment on the nature of the Athenian Empire at that date.

Perdiccas was the king of Macedonia (Map 1.60, AX).

Thrace: Map 1.60, AY. The Athenians referred to the member states of their empire to the north of the Aegean as “the places in Thrace,” though Thrace itself lay largely where Bulgaria is today.

Derdas is thought to have possibly been king of Elymiotis, in upper Macedonia.

Chalcidice: Map 1.60, BY.

The Bottiaeans are believed to have then inhabited Bottica (Bottike) in central Chalcidice, as shown on Map 1.60, AX (Simon Hornblower, A Commentary on Thucydides [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991], 1:101).

The title of the Chalcidian League was “the Chalcidians,” a term that Thucydides always employs save for one moment, after the Peace of Nicias, in which Athens sought the dissolution of the league (5.39.1).

Olynthus:Map 1.60,BX.

1.58.2c Mygdonia: Map 1.60, AX.

Lake Bolbe: Map 1.60, AY.

Thracian area: see note 1.56.2d.

These are the thousand men who were sent off in 1.57.6.

Therme: Map 1.60, AX.

Pydna: Map 1.60, BX.

Beroea: Map 1.60, AX.

Strepsa, possible location: Map 1.60, AX. “Strepsa” is an emendation of this text that is not universally accepted.

Gigonus: Map 1.60, BX.

The northern side, toward Olynthus: Map 1.60,BX.

Greek soldiers and sailors at this time were expected to purchase their food from local markets with their own money, which made prompt disbursement of adequate military pay quite important. For a city to offer a special market at a convenient location for foreign military personnel was a polite and presumably profitable amenity, and it also helped to keep such “visitors” out of the city.

After a battle in ancient Greece, the victors would gather up their own dead, strip those of the enemy, and raise a trophy. The defeated would collect the bodies of their fallen during a truce that they explicitly requested and were granted for that purpose. In this way, appropriate reverence was shown and proper burial was accorded to all war dead. See Appendix F, Land Warfare, ©6.

Potidaea’s “Pallene side” would be the southern side; see Pallene Peninsula, Map 1.60, BY.

Aphytis: Map 1.60, BY.

Sermylium: Map 1.60, BY.

Bottica (Bottike): Map 1.60, BX.

The Hellenic year began in the middle of our calendar year, and so “432/1,” for example, is used to cover the winter period comprising the latter part of the year 432 and the initial part of the year 431.

Assembly: see Appendix C, Spartan Institutions, ©6. The precise date of the Megara Decree is uncertain (see note at 1.42.2a), as also is the way in which it was thought to infringe the Thirty Years’ Peace. See also Appendix B, The Athenian Empire, ©10.

Thucydides describes how Sparta “let” the Athenians fortify their city after the Persian War in 1.89-92.

The Greeks regularly referred to the Persians as “the Mede”: see note 1.18.1c.

The battle of Marathon in 490: Map 1.11, BX.

Salamis, site of the decisive naval battle between Greeks and Persians in 480: Map 1.11, BX.

The Straits of Salamis where the fighting took place: Map 1.11, BX. For more about Themistocles, see 1.90.3-1.93 and 1.135.2-1.138.6.

Archidamus here proposes an approach to Persia for aid against Athens. For more on early diplomatic contacts between Sparta and Persia, see 2.7.1, 2.67.1, and 4.50.2.

Spartan ephors were powerful government officials; see Appendix C, Sparta, ©5-6.

See Appendix D, The Peloponnesian League, ©5, for the League congress.

See Appendix C, Spartan Institutions, ©6.

The Thirty Years’ Peace was sworn in 446/5, which dates this assembly to 432/1.

The “affair” of Euboea refers to its revolt from Athens, described by Thucydides in 1.114.1. See Appendix K, Calendars and Dating Systems, ©2-3.

Book 1, chapters 89 to 117, are commonly referred to as the “Pentecontaetia,” the latinized version of “Pentekontaetea,” which is Greek for “The Fifty Years” covering the period between the withdrawal of the Persians from Greece in 479 and the commencement of the Peloponnesian War in 431.

The Greek victory at Mycale (near Mt. Mycale, Map 1.99, BY) took place in 479.

Ionia: Map 1.99, BY.

Hellespont: Map 1.99, AY.

1.89.2d Sestos:Map 1.99, AY.

Thebes: Map 1.99,BX.

It might be noted here that Sparta, alone among important Greek cities, had no defensive wall in 479.

Sections of this “Themistoclean” wall that clearly display the signs of hasty construction mentioned here by Thucydides have been found by archeologists.

For the location of the Piraeus in relation to Athens, see Map 1.107, inset.

For archon, see Glossary and Appendix A, The Athenian Government, ©6.

Thucydides recounts the end of Themistocles’ career in 1.135.2-38.6.

Cyprus: Map 1.99, locator.

Byzantium: Map 1.99, locator.

Greeks who submitted to the Persians, or who otherwise joined or assisted them, were accused of “Medism.” Thucydides describes the end of Pausanias’ career in 1.128-34.

Treasurers for Hellas, Hellenotamiai; see Appendix B, The Athenian Empire, ©10. For the initial tribute, see Appendix B, ©2. A talent is a unit of weight and money; see Appendix J, Classical Greek Currency, ©5.

Delos: Map 1.99, BY.

Hellanicus published his Atthis after 406, and this allusion has generally been seen as an indication that these chapters on the growth of the Athenian empire from 480 to 431 (the Pentecontaetia) were written after Thucydides’ return from exile in 404.

The chronology of the Pentecontaetia is much debated; the dates here aim to cover possibilities rather than record agreed facts.

Eion: Map 1.99, AX.

Strymon River: Map 1.99, AX.

Scyros: Map 1.99, AY.

Carystus: Map 1.99, BY.

Euboea: Map 1.99, AX.

Naxos: Map 1.99, BY.

Dates here are very difficult to establish, but one would not be far wrong to place the capture of Eion in 476; the campaign against Carystus in 474 (?); and the revolt of Naxos and its suppression in 471-70 (though some have assigned it to 468-67).

The battles on the Eurymedon River (Map 1.99, locator), can be dated no closer than the years 469-66.

The secession of Thasos (Map 1.99, AY) is estimated to have taken place in 466-5 and to have ended three years later in 463-2.

Ennea Hodoi: Amphipolis on Map 1.99, AX. This failure to establish a colony at Ennea Hodoi probably occurred in 465-64.

Drabescus and the general location of Edonia:Map 1.99, AX.

The earthquake and the simultaneous revolt of the Helots occurred in 465-64. For information regarding the Spartan Helots and perioikoi, see Appendix C, Spartan Institutions, ©3, 9.

Thuria in Messenia: Map 1.107, BX.

Aethaea: site unknown, but presumably not far from Thuria.

Mount Ithome, site of the ancient capital of Messenia: Map 1.107, BX.

The Messenian war, about 720 B.C.? See Appendix C, Spartan Institutions ©3.

The “alliance” in this case is the Hellenic Alliance against Persia, not the Peloponnesian League.

Argos: Map 1.107, BY.

Thessaly: Map 1.99, AX.

Thucydides is thought by many to have written here “four” instead of “ten.”

Delphi: Map 1.107, AY.

Mt. Ithome: Map 1.107, BX.

Naupactus: Map 1.107, AX.

Ozolian Locris: Map 1.107, AX.

Megara: Map 1.107, AY.

Corinth: Map 1.107, AY.

Pegae: Map 1.107, AY.

Nisaea: Map 1.107, AY.

Marea, Egypt: Map 1.110.

Egypt: Map 1.110.

Cyprus: Map 1.110.

Nile River: Map 1.110.

Memphis on the Nile: Map 1.110.

Halieis: Map 1.107, BY.

Epidaurus: Map 1.107, BY.

Cecryphalia: Map 1.107, AY. This action (in 459?) was apparently the initial hostility of what is now called the “First Peloponnesian War” between Sparta and Athens.

Aegina: Map 1.107, AY.

The “Peloponnesians” in this case is probably the Peloponnesian League. See Appendix D, The Peloponnesian League.

Mount Geraneia: Map 1.107, AY.

Athenian “Long Walls” to Piraeus, and “Phaleric Wall” to Phalerum: Map 1.107, Athens inset.

Phocis: Map 1.107, AY.

Doris: Map 1.107, AY.

Boeum, possible location: Map 1.107 AX.

Cytinium: Map 1.107, AY.

Erineum, possible location: Map 1.107, AX.

Crisaean Gulf: Map 1.107, AY.

Mount Geraneia: Map 1.107, AY.

Pegae: Map 1.107, AY.

Boeotia: Map 1.107, AY.

For plots against Athenian democracy, see Appendix A, The Athenian Government, ©11-12.

Tanagra: Map 1.107, AY.

Oenophyta: Map 1.107, AY.

Phocis: Map 1.107, AY.

Opuntian Locris: Map 1.107, AY.

Aegina: Map 1.107, AY.

Presumably the shipyard at Gythion on the coast of Laconia: Map 1.107, BY.

Chalcis of the Corinthians: Map 1.107, AX.

Sicyon: Map 1.107, AY.

Memphis, Egypt: Map 1.110.

Prosopitis, Egypt: location unknown.

Libya: Map 1.110.

Cyrene, Libya: Map 1.110.

Mendesian mouth of the Nile River: Map 1.110.

Thessaly: Map 1.110.

Boeotia:Map 1.112, AY.

Phocis:Map 1.112, AY.

Pharsalus in Thessaly: Map 1.112, AY.

Pegae: Map 1.112, BY.

Sicyon: Map 1.112, BY.

Achaea: Map 1.112, BX.

Oeniadae: Map 1.112, AX.

Acarnania: Map 1.112, AX.

Cyprus: Map 1.110.

Egypt: Map 1.110.

Citium, Cyprus: Map 1.110.

Salamis, Cyprus: Map 1.110.

Phoenicia: Map

Cilicia: Map 1.110.

Delphi: Map 1.112, AY.

Phocis: Map 1.112, AY.

Orchomenus: Map 1.112, AY.

Chaeronea: Map 1.112, AY.

Boeotia: Map 1.112, AY.

Coronea: Map 1.112, AY.

Locris (Opuntian): Map 1.112, AY.

Euboea: Map 1.112, AY.

Megara: Map 1.112, BY.

Attica: Map 1.112, BY.

Nisaea: Map 1.112, BY.

Corinth: Map 1.112, BY.

Sicyon: Map 1.112,BY.

Epidaurus: Map 1.112, BY.

Eleusis: Map 1.112, BY.

Thria: Map 1.112, BY.

Histiaea, Euboca: Map 1.112, AY.

Pegae: Map 1.112, BY.

Troezen: Map 1.112, BY.

Achaca: Map 1.112, BX.

Samos: Map 1.115.

Miletus: Map 1.115.

Priene: Map 1.115.

See Appendix B, The Athenian Empire, ©4.

Lemnos: Map 1.115.

Sardis: Map 1.115. See Appendix E, The Persians, ©3, 7.

Byzantium: Map 1.115.

Caria: Map 1.115.

Chios: Map 1.115.

Lesbos: Map 1.115.

Tragia: Map 1.115.1.

Caunus: Map 1.115.

This is another Thucydides, not the Thucydides son of Olorus who is the author of this history.

See 1.88.1.

Delphi: Map 1.115.

See Appendix D, The Peloponnesian League, ©5.

Olympia, Delphi: Map 1.115. Offerings of silver and gold objects and other valuable material accumulated at major temples and shrines to such a degree that these institutions became unique and tempting repositories of ready capital in ancient Greece. In 2.13.4-5, Pericles lists the vast wealth lying in Athenian temples and shrines that could be called upon—if necessary—to support the war.

Potidaea: Map 1.129, AX.

For the Dorians and the Ionians, see Appendix H, Dialects and Ethnic Groups, ©7-8.

See the Introduction (sec. II.v) for a discussion of speeches in Thucydides.

See Appendix D, The Peloponnesian League, ©5.

To “drive out the curse” means to drive away those accursed for pollution (by foul deeds) of the sacred precincts of a god or goddess.

Cylon’s name appears in the Olympic-victor lists for the 35th Olympiad of 640 B.C. His attempt to set up a tyranny was therefore made in 636 or 632. See Appendix K, Classical Greek Calendars and Dating Systems, ©4, and Appendix I, Classical Greek Religious Festivals, ©5. For the location of Olympia, see Map 1.129, BX.

Megara: Map 1.129, BX.

Delphi: Map 1.129, BX.

The Acropolis of Athens was a steep hill on the top of which stood the city’s most ancient religious shrines and temples. At one time it constituted the entire city, as Thucydides notes in 2.15.3-6.

When Thucydides wrote this, the archons at Athens had become officials with no real powers; see Appendix A, The Athenian Government, ©6.

Those who sought protection at the altar of a god could not be harmed without risk of sacrilege. See the supplication of the Helots (1.128.1), of the servant of Pausanias (1.133.1), of Themistocles (1.136.1), and of the Mytilenians (3.28.2); also the excesses of the Corcyraean revolution (3.81.5); and the flights of Thrasyllus (5.60.6) and Astyochus (8.84.3).

1.128.1a For more on the Helots, see Appendix C, Spartan Institutions, ©3-4.

Taenarum: Map 1.129, BX.

See note

Hellespont: Map 1.129. AY. This picks up the career of Pausanias from 1.95.

For Pausanias’ first recall, See 1.95.5.

Hermione: Map 1.129, BX.

Byzantium: Map 1.129, AY.

Cyprus: Map 1.110. Pausanias’ campaign against Cyprus took place in 478.

Eretria, Euboea: Map 1.129, BX.

Dascylium: Map 1.129, AY. See Appendix E, The Persians, ©7.

“Across sea” refers here to the Hellespont (Map 1.129, AY), which, although a narrow strait, was still “the sea” to the Persians.

Piataea: Map 1.129, BX. Pausanias led the Greeks in the great victory over the Persians at Piataea in 479.

Hermione: Map 1.129, BX.

Byzantium: Map 1.129, AY.

Colonae in the Troad: Map 1.129, AY.

The five Spartan ephors had wide-ranging powers; see Appendix C, Spartan Institutions, ©5-6.

The scytale, a Spartan device for coding secret messages, was a staff around which was rolled a strip of leather so that its edges always met. This surface was then written on crosswise, unrolled, and sent to its destination. It could only be read again when it was wound around an exactly similar staff that was given to an official when going abroad on public service.

Sparta: Map 1.129, BX.

Remains of this tripod, and its inscription, can be seen today in Istanbul; see illustration 1.132.

For more on the Helots, see Appendix C, Spartan Institutions, ©3-4.

Most likely not the Argilus in Chalcidice (Map 1.129, AX) but another unknown site near Sparta.

Taenarum: Map 1.129, BX. Suppliant: see note 1.126.11a.

Thucydides has already described. Themistocles’ role in persuading the Athenians to build a fleet (1.14.3), in the victory over the Persians at Salamis, (1.74.1), and in rebuilding Athens’ walls, (1.89.3-1.93).

Themistocles is thought to have been ostracized no earlier than 472-1. Ostracism was a procedure by which an Athenian citizen could be honorably banished from Athens and her possessions for ten years without loss of property or citizenship if, after the Athenians had chosen to hold such a vote, he received the most votes out of a total of at least six thousand votes cast (votes were noted on shards of pottery called ostraka). See also 8.74.3; Appendix A, The Athenian Government, ©8; and Illustration 1.135.

Argos: Map 1.137, BX.

Corcyra:Map 1.137, AX.

Molossia: Map 1.137, AX.

Suppliant: see note 1.126.11a.

Pydna, Macedonia: Map 1.137, AX. Alexander was then king of Macedonia. By the “other sea”; Thucydides opposes the Ionian Sea (Map 1.137, AX) to the Aegean Sea (Map 1.137, BY).

Ionia: Map 1.137, BY.

Naxos: Map 1.137, BY. Thucydides mentions a siege at Naxos in 1.98.4.

Ephesus: Map 1.137, BY.

. The date of the accession of Artaxerxes is 465/4. On any chronology of Themistocles, there is an awkward hiatus between the siege of Naxos (and Themistocles’ arrival in Asia) and his meeting with Artaxerxes.

Salamis by Athens: Map 1.137, BX.

Magnesia on the Meander River: Map 1.137, BY. Thucydides terms it “Asiatic” to distinguish it from the coastal strip of southwest Thessaly also called Magnesia (Map 1.137, BX). The agora was a classical city’s principal market place—its center for commercial, social, and political activity.

The talent is a unit of weight and money. See Appendix J, Classical Greek Currency, ©5.

Lampsacus: Map 1.137, AY.

Myos: Map 1.137, BY.

Potidaea: Map 1.137, AX.

Aegina: Map 1.137, BX.

Athens’ Megara decree was apparently a powerful sanction. See Appendix B, The Athenian Empire, ©10. Megara: Map 1.137, BX.

Assembly: see Appendix A, The Athenian Government, ©5, 8.

Failure to offer or to accept Athenian offers of arbitration did have adverse effects upon Spartan morale during the first phase of the Peloponnesian War, as we learn in 7.18.

Pericles refers here to the membership of the Peloponnesian League.

Here and in the points below concerning moneys from Delphi and Olympia, the suborning of Athens’ foreign sailors with high pay, and the training of a Peloponnesian fleet to match Athens, Thucydides seems to have Pericles respond directly to points made by the Corinthians in their speech to the Spartans and their allies reported in 1.121-22.

Olympia: Map 1.137, BX.

Delphi: Map 1.137, BX.

Athenian resident aliens (mettes) had both rights and obligations but were not citizens. See Appendix A, The Athenian Government, ©2.

Epidamnus: Map 1.137, AX.

Corcyra: Map 1.137. AX.

You can support the site and the Armed Forces of Ukraine by following the link to Buy Me a Coffee.

If you find an error or have any questions, please email us at Thank you!